National News

Dump The Lumps: The World Health Organization Says Eat Less Sugar

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 13:54

WHO says there's strong evidence that excessive sugar is bad for us. So it's recommending that we cut back significantly.

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How To Help Children Orphaned By Ebola

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 13:36

More than 16,000 children have lost a parent to Ebola. Almost all of these children have found a home with a relative, but they still lack basic needs, such as food and clothes for school.

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Why more than half of farmers have a second job

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 13:30

The Lilienthal farm is tucked into a corner of eastern Iowa, about a half hour’s drive from the Mississippi River and Illinois border. It’s 400 acres of flat, fertile farmland. The farm has been in the family for about 150 years.

I pull up to a trim, white farmhouse. The Lilienthals are gracious, and hardy. So they agree to give me a quick tour of the farm, even though it’s seven degrees outside.  

Dale Lilienthal is the family patriarch. He points to a shed.

"Dad built this machine shed," he says. "So he says, 'I’m going to build this so the doors are high enough and wide enough.' Now they’re not high enough or wide enough.”

Dale Lilienthal is the family patriarch.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer

That’s because the equipment Dale’s son uses today dwarfs his father’s. Bob Lilienthal is in the process of taking over the family farm. He rents the farmland and hundreds more acres around it. He had to build a shed the size of a warehouse for his machines. 

Bob Lilienthal built an immense new hog barn, too. Bob raises more than a thousand pigs at a time, while his father used to have a couple hundred. 

But with everything bigger and better, Bob Lilienthal struggles to match his father’s standard of living, even though he has side businesses. 

I’ve come here to find out why. But first we have to get warm after our tour. We hustle into the cozy farmhouse kitchen. On the table – cookies and hot chocolate. This was going to be a good interview.

I get things going, with this question for the young farmers at the table: “Do you ever think to yourself – my goodness – you could just farm in the old days and now you have to have all these separate things?”

Bob Lilienthal’s business partner, Chad Rockow, pipes up.

Chad Rockow is Bob Lilienthal's business partner.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer

“The bar has been raised,” he says.

Rockow says it costs more to farm now, even after you factor in inflation. 

Everything is more expensive. Fertilizer, equipment. And the prices the Lilienthals get for their corn, soy beans and livestock haven’t kept up. 

Rockow says their profit margins are thinner than Dale Lilienthal’s were. So they have to farm more land, raise more pigs, and do lots of other stuff.

“It’s more like what don’t we do," he says, laughing. "There might be eight or 10 different businesses.”

They even have a foam insulation business, totally unrelated to the farm. They do some contract farming, plowing other people’s fields. They raise pigs for the giant Cargill corporation (they’re paid to raise Cargill pigs in their barn). 

But Bob Lilienthal says big corporations are one reason it’s hard to be a small farmer now.

“There’s all these big companies – Cargill, Tyson’s," he says. "They all own sows, they all own pigs. And they own the packing plant. So they’re very hard to compete against.”

Bob Lilienthal says it's hard to compete with big corporations.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer

There were no Cargills or Tyson’s when Bob’s father, Dale Lilienthal, was farming.

And here’s another thing. The price of farmland has skyrocketed. Dale Lilienthal remembers when he bought a chunk of land back in 1962. “When we first got married I bought ground for $400 an acre," he says. "Now that same ground is worth, what? $10-12,000."

The farm across from the Lilienthals sold for $12,000 an acre a few years ago. 

All this stuff – the soaring land prices, rising costs, competition – it’s happening across the country.

“Part-time farming is pervasive and it appears to me to be permanent, and I think there’ll even be more reliance on off-farm income,” says Paul Lasley, a professor of sociology at Iowa State University, who studies farm communities. 

Dale Lilienthal says today's farmers have to be good business people.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer

Lasley says 50 to 60 percent of farmers in the U.S. have some kind of second job – off the farm. Maybe they drive a school bus, or sell insulation like Bob Lilienthal. 

Back at his kitchen table, Dale Lilienthal can only shake his head and marvel at the innovation of today’s farmers.

“You gotta be a lot sharper to be a farmer now than when I started," he says. "When I started, if you were strong and did things on time you were successful.” Now, he says, you have to be a good business person, too.

So why do they do it? Well, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed. They feel the pull of the land, like previous generations did. They like to watch things grow, be their own boss. Even if that means working harder to stay in place.

Northwest Oil Terminal Plan Would Mean Jobs — And More Oil Trains

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 13:28

Oil companies hope to build the nation's largest oil-by-rail terminal on the Columbia River in Washington. Proponents say it will bring economic growth, but others fear it could mean fiery accidents.

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McDonald's Says It Won't Be Serving Chicken Raised On Antibiotics

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 12:38

Over the next two years, McDonald's will transition its U.S. restaurants to a new antibiotics policy. Several of the chain's competitors have also committed to curb antibiotics in their supply chain.

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In LA, Clearing A Backlog Of Aging Instruments

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 12:26

The district has made progress, but many students are stuck with broken strings, squeaky horns and out-of-tune pianos.

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A Ruling Against Obamacare Would Have Broad Implications

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 12:26

If the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies, millions of people could no longer afford health insurance. And premiums for others would rise dramatically, as healthier people leave the marketplace.

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India Bans Film About Infamous 2012 Gang Rape

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 12:20

The government also says it will investigate how the makers of India's Daughter got permission to interview one of the men convicted of the brutal rape and killing of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi.

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Failed Keystone Veto Override Marks Another Win For Veto Pen

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 12:13

Since the beginning of the republic, regular presidential vetoes have been overridden only 7 percent of the time, and that percentage falls to 4 percent if you include the sneakier "pocket veto."

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Ferguson Documents: Justice Investigation Backs Former Officer Wilson

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 12:05

The grand jury documents left doubt, but federal investigators say they found "no credible evidence to disprove [Officer Darren] Wilson's perception that Brown posed a threat."

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The Transaction: Christmas dinner, a broken range and an unexpected miracle

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 11:44

Marketplace listener Vivian Simonsen-Jupp of Henderson, Nevada was excited to have everyone in her family home for Christmas for the first time in years. But when her oven broke the day before the big feast, her desperate scramble for a new one led to an unexpected epiphany. 

Her story is the debut installment of our listener-generated series, "The Transaction."

Tell us how a simple exchange of goods or services impacted you. Did it change your outlook? Your mood? Your mind? Maybe your life? We want to know. Click here to share.

 

Here Are The Racist Emails Ferguson Officials Passed Around

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 11:37

One email compares President Obama to a chimpanzee. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said Wednesday that one employee has been fired and two others are on administrative leave.

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The Anti-Pollution Documentary That's Taken China By Storm

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 11:30

A prominent journalist with a sick child quit her job and produced an eye-opening look at the consequences of China's air pollution problem. Some 200 million have watched it since the weekend.

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King v. Burwell: Oral arguments on Obamacare

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 11:15

The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case known as King v. Burwell, a challenge to the subsidies included in the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare, as some may call it.

Marketplace's Dan Gorenstein was in the Supreme Court Chamber Wednesday morning for arguments. He says, one of the big takeaways from the hearing was that the justices all seemed to get it.

“While they spent 84 minutes debating legal theory, the most vocal justices on the left and the right spoke to the potential real world impact,” says Gorenstein. "We’re talking about millions of Americans potentially losing their insurance.”

Both Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito, in a way, offered some sorts of contingency plans.

“Scalia talked about Congress coming up with a solution if these subsidies go away,” says Gorenstein. “Alito mentioned that the subsidies wouldn’t have to be eliminated immediately, potentially buying Congress some time.”

Why liberal arts colleges are struggling

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 11:12

These are tough times for  liberal arts colleges. Sweet Briar College announced Tuesday it could be closing 

"Fewer and fewer students want what they sell,"says Victor Ferrall, the former President of Beloit College and the author of “Liberal Arts at the Brink."

Gone are the days when kids and their parents are willing to pay for languid afternoon classes spent debating philosophy on a leafy quad. Today, says Ferrall, "education is very focused on a good job." 

In a 2014 national survey of college freshmen by UCLA, more students said they chose college to get a better job than to gain a general education.

For more, listen to our interview with Sweet Briar College president Dr. James Jones on the Marketplace Morning Report on Thursday, March 5.

Senate Fails In Bid To Override Obama's Veto On Keystone XL Pipeline

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 11:02

The final vote was 62-37 – short of the two-thirds needed to override the presidential veto.

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Programs Help Students Cut Back On Booze, But Not For Long

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 10:42

Most colleges have some sort of alcohol education program. One-time interventions do cut drinking, but only short term. They tend to work better for women, with with no benefit for men in frats.

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Few Clues On Health Law's Future Emerge In Supreme Court Arguments

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 10:40

Will the Supreme Court strike down tax credits that help moderate-income Americans afford coverage in the three dozen states where the marketplace is being run by the federal government?

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Jawbone Fossil Fills Big Gap In Human Evolution, Scientists Say

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 10:37

Writing in Science, scientists say the 2.8-million-year-old fossil appears to belong to an individual from the beginning of the ancestral line that led to humans.

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Using personal email addresses for work isn't uncommon

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 09:40

Hillary Clinton used a personal email account while Secretary of State instead of an official government address – a possible breach of open-records laws which will likely be much-discussed during the 2016 presidential campaign.

But setting aside Clinton and the particulars of her case, to what extent is this an issue in the corporate world?

Using a personal email for work is fairly common and often driven by convenience, says Jill Fisch, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. John Challenger, the CEO of the outplacement and research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., says there’s often not a strict boundary between work and personal life these days. 

Still, many companies try to make employees use their email to preserve records or because it may be more secure. 

In regulated industries, using work email is a must, says Michael Rivera, chair of Venable LLP’s Securities Enforcement and Compliance Practice.

“Particularly broker dealers, for example, they have to have a system in place to capture every single email that comes in and out of that firm to be able to satisfy their obligations to retain emails."

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