National News

A Case Of Mistaken Identity Sends Healthy Boy To An Ebola Ward

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 10:20

An ambulance in Sierra Leone is sent out to pick up a suspected patient. But after two wrong turns and several stops for directions, it arrives at the home of a 14-year-old boy with no signs of Ebola.

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Argentina: Where Cash Is King And Robberies Are On The Rise

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 10:19

With spiraling inflation and a distrust in banks after the country's 2001 default, Argentines are keeping more cash on hand. And that means robbery rates are spiraling, too.

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NFL Quarterback Cam Newton Taken To Hospital After Car Crash

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 09:48

The player's truck flipped several times on a bridge close to his team's stadium in downtown Charlotte. His injuries are reportedly not life-threatening.

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Wellness At Work Often Comes With Strings Attached

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 09:43

A group of CEOs wants the Obama administration to backtrack on efforts to regulate workplace wellness. The programs have ballooned in popularity, but there's little evidence they work.

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'Ebola Must Go' — And So Must Prejudice Against Survivors

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 09:28

Liberia has started a campaign to get communities more involved in stopping Ebola. But even in the town handpicked to launch the campaign, a family of survivors has been ostracized.

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Senate Panel's Report On CIA Calls Harsh Tactics Ineffective

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 08:27

Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee released a report saying the CIA misled higher-ups and didn't accurately describe its post-Sept. 11 interrogation tactics. The CIA disputes the findings.

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Obama: CIA's 'Harsh Methods' Inconsistent With Values, National Security

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 07:34

Earlier, GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell and Saxby Chambliss said the release of the Senate's report on the CIA's interrogations practices "will present serious consequences for U.S. national security."

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'Obamacare' Expert Apologizes For Remarks On Law's Creation

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 07:13

MIT health care economist Jonathan Gruber had said the "stupidity of the American voter" was critical in getting the law passed. Critics say that displays the deceit that went into creating the law.

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'Botnets' are costing advertisers billions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-09 07:00

Want to watch Taylor Swift’s new music video? First, you’re supposed to sit through a video ad. How much advertisers pay for that ad depends on how many times it’s viewed.

However, almost a quarter of the impressions registered for online video ads are fraudulent, according to a new report from the Association of National Advertisers, which found hackers are faking views with networks of computers called “botnets” that make it seem like an ad’s been viewed by a person, when it was really just a computer.

That means advertisers are losing money on these fake views, says Bill Duggan of the Association of National Advertisers.

“While fraud hurts all of the players, publishers, advertisers, and agencies, it hurts the advertisers the most,” he says.

These phony views come up in nearly every conversation that Lauren Fisher, an analyst with eMarketer, has with brands and agencies.

“It’s even going so far as deterring some people from investing in buying video ads because they are so concerned about the level of fraud that they just don’t want to take the risk of losing money in that manner,” she says.

 Advertisers may lose $6.3 billion to this type of fraud next year, according to an advertisers association estimate.

An oversupply of oil isn't all good

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-09 07:00

There’s simply an oversupply of oil right now, and too much supply causes prices fall – They’re currently near five-year lows. And when prices fall, oil companies have to cut back.

ConocoPhillips says it plans to cut spending 20 percent next year, and will slow activity in U.S. shale oil and gas exploration. BP is expected to announce layoffs Wednesday.

The low prices have come as a shock to many in the industry, says Jeffrey Grossman, president of BRG Brokerage.

“They were hoping for a big next year or two,” he says. “Now suddenly it’s, ‘Uh oh, if this price doesn’t go up, I’m spending $75 to pull something up that I can only get $65.’ That’s not a trade you want to make.”

With prices this low, Torbjørn Kjus, chief oil analyst at Norway’s DNB Markets, says companies have a few options. He expects more companies will announce job cuts, slash spending and delay investments in new projects.

“Some of them will also probably borrow more money,” he says. “Some also might even touch the dividends, but that will be seen as very negative by the investors and the shareowners.”

Kjus says because dividend cuts often hurt companies’ stock price, oil executives often view them as a last resort. 

Robots are costing advertisers billions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-09 07:00

Want to watch Taylor Swift’s new music video? First, you’re supposed to sit a video ad. How much advertisers pay for that ad depends on how many times it’s viewed.

However, almost a quarter of the impressions registered for online video ads are fraudulent, according a new report from the Association of National Advertisers, which found hackers are faking views with networks of computers called “botnets” that make it seem like an ad’s been viewed by a person, when it was really just a computer.

That means advertisers are losing money on these fake views, says Bill Duggan, with Association of National Advertisers.

“While fraud hurts all of the players, publishers, advertisers, and agencies, it hurts the advertisers the most,” he says.

These phony views come up in nearly every conversation Lauren Fisher, an analyst with eMarketer, has with brands and agencies.

“It’s even going so far as deterring some people from investing in buying video ads because they are so concerned about the level of fraud that they just don’t want to take the risk of losing money in that manner,” she says.

The ANA estimates advertisers will lose $6.3 billion to this type of fraud next year.

World Food Program Resumes Food Aid For Syrian Refugees

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 06:11

The U.N. organization said that after it suspended a food-voucher program earlier this month, individuals, the private sector and governments stepped in to raise the money.

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The Kochs: Big brothers of personal data

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-09 05:57

The Koch brothers and their network of big-money players are investing millions into a data company that's developing detailed profiles on millions of Americans.

At this point, along with all the other in-house expertise the network has, the Koch’s political operation could be a privatized national party all on its own if they wanted it to be.

"When you have this outside money paying for the latest technology, you really have a very potent force," says Ken Vogel, a reporter for Politico. "That’s what the Koch brothers have, perhaps ever more so than the Republican National Committee or the Democratic National Committee."

Quiz: How presidents at private colleges are paid

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-09 04:39

The median pay for a president at a private college was $392,000 in 2012, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Live Blog: Senate Expected To Release Long-Held CIA Torture Report

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 04:19

The report is the most comprehensive account of interrogation techniques used by the CIA after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The report's release has been controversial

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The Sony hack continues

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-09 04:00
2 executives

In the latest threat from the "Guardians of Peace" (the hackers behind the release of confidential documents from Sony), the group threatened to release the private information of two executives if the company did not "stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism", i.e. 'The Interview'

70 million

The number of users Napster claimed at its peak, in the early years of the new millennium. That's not even accounting for the many other file-sharing services that cropped up during that time. Napster is long dead, but a new Retro Report documentary looks back at the powerful paradigm shift it kickstarted, one the industry is still sorting out: that media online should be free.

300,000 beds

Airbnb currently has about 300,000 more than the number of beds of either Hilton and Marriott. But now the brand is having an identity crisis: when someone stays at an Airbnb rental, there's nothing that distinguishes the experience. It's why the lodging service is launching "Pineapple,"a magazine that will be sent to hosts and bookstores around the world.

56.1 percent

The portion of web ads that don't appear on screen for even a full second, if they appear at all, according to new data from Google. One contributor to this problem is virus-affected computers, Quartz reported, which request ads billions of times without actually displaying them.

$140,000

When the flu vaccine targets the wrong strain (like it did this year), it means more people will get sick. According to some estimates, businesses spent almost $140,000 more on flu-related costs per 100,000 workers the last time federal scientists made the wrong guess.

9 times

That's how much viewership on YouTube has increased since 2010. Online video hasn't just exploded, it's in the middle of a big bang and it's already produced a staggering number of largely independent and niche producers and channels whose viewership rivals television and movies, but attract young audiences that don't fit the conventional wisdom attached to those media. The New Yorker took a deep dive this week into the lives of YouTube and Vine "creators" and their uneasy relationship with an entertainment industry that sees dollar signs but doesn't know how to grab on to such a rapidly changing business.

PODCAST: Airbnb gets a makeover

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-09 03:00

First up, more on the tumbling Chinese stock. Then, the flu vaccine gets it wrong. Plus, Airbnb does some rebranding.

Chuck Hagel Lands In Iraq To Meet With Officials

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-09 02:41

Hagel is the first secretary of defense to visit the country since President Obama ended American combat involvement in Iraq in 2011.

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The path of recovery from a violent past

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-09 02:00

Rachel stands behind a row of metal buffet trays full of pasta and fried fish, lined up on a table skirted in white fabric. She is demur and quiet. She, unlike many of the men in the room, exhibits no desire to be in the spotlight or consume the oxygen in the room.

Her past, much like this region's, is complex and fraught. In 1996, Rachel was 16. Neighboring Rwanda's genocidal ethnic war had been spilling into Congo for several years, bringing economic, political, and personal chaos to millions of people. Rachel was one of those people.

"My family had left, they fled when the soldiers were coming," she remembers. "But I had gone back to the house, I was trying to hide."

"They came into the house, five or six soldiers. They raped me," she says.

Tragically, Rachel was just one of the millions of women who had to endure sexual violence during Congo's long and vicious wars. 

Rachel stayed with an elderly neighbor for a few months, but decided to leave. "I felt like I had no value in my neighborhood anymore," she says. "So I decided to become a soldier myself. I wanted people to fear me, to respect me."

She joined the Mai Mai rebel group, one of many dozens rampaging through Eastern Congo in the late 90's and early 2000's (and to some extent still today) as the social fabric and infrastructure of the region became unmoored. 

30,000 children were serving as soldiers in 2003 in Eastern Congo, many conscripted against their will. Living in the forest, they  moved from camp site to camp site, sometimes witnessing or participating in violence of the most brutal kind. 

Rachel says her wish came true. People did fear her. "They knew that I could kill them or hit them or do something to them," she says. "They  knew I had the capacity and spirit to do it."

When fighting  began to calm down, her group agreed to merge with the Congolese army, which represented the same forces who'd raped her years before. It was at this time she also found out her mother was still alive, back in Bukavu. 

"I deserted, and I came back to Bukavu. They arrested me there for desertion," she says.

In prison, she became pregnant. Out of prison, and now with a three month old, she moved back in with her mother—A happy, if complicated reunification. Making a living proved tough. What once made her feared now made her suspect. 

"People said, 'Oh she's a soldier! She'll kill us! She's a thief!'" she says.

She became a prostitute for a time. Another child and a failed marriage later—her husband shunned her after learning about her past—she decided  to learn a trade. 

She arrived at Laissez Afrique Vivre, a school for ex combattants, where she learned how to cook: "I studied hospitality, hotelerie."

Behind Rachel are shimmery lavender bows and pleated white fabric covering the walls and table. "All of these decorations, I did them," she says. 

Buffet trays of rice and fried plantains are added to the lineup, part of a banquet for special guests.

"I can cook anything int he Congolese kitchen," Rachel says. "Not so much your European food, but any Congolese food you like, I can cook!"

Rachel caters, she makes street food. She likes to make wedding cakes. She has two children now and pays their way to school. Her dream now is to work in a hotel. 

"I don't think about the past."

Off-target flu shot will cost employers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-09 02:00

Every year, federal scientists make a bet on the flu—They try to figure out the dominant flu strain, and vaccine makers produce a flu shot to fight that strain.

“In some years, the prediction is on the mark, and in some years the prediction is further away from the mark,” says Dr. Bruce Lee, an associate professor of international health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. This year, the vaccine is off the mark, which probably means more flu, he says. “We’ll see more cases this year, and more severe cases."

Lee says, the last time this happened, businesses spent almost $140,000 more on flu-related costs per 100,000 workers.

But employers can fight back. 

“You could increase the number of shifts so there are not as many people working together in the office. Some companies limit the number of meetings," says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 

And Challenger says employers should still encourage their workers to get a flu shot. Because, doctors say, even if you get the flu anyway, you carry less virus. And that's good news for your co-workers.  

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