National News

State Senator's Resignation Roils Virginia Politics

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 14:58

Gov. Terry McAuliffe's efforts to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have been thrown into further uncertainty by the actions of a single Democratic legislator.

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Supreme Court Rules Against Homeowners In Superfund Case

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 14:20

The justices made it harder for residents in a handful of states to sue companies for contamination that wasn't discovered until long after it took place.

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Contemplating the short suit

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-09 13:52

Not for the first time, I am thanking my lucky stars that I'm in radio, and that, therefore, you all can't see what I'm wearing.

Because apparently there's a new thing in mens fashion this year: A short suit. Not a suit that's cut a little bit short, but a suit in which the pants are actually shorts.

Bermuda shorts, to be sure, but still... above the knee.

J. Crew thinks people are going to pay $358 for something called "the Ludlow short suit in rope stripe Italian wool-linen."


For those of you who have said that yes, you would wear shorts with a suit -- and there were more than a couple of you -- it's time to put up or shut up.

Tweet us a picture @Marketplace... or it didn't happen.  

Are there more of you? MT @AndrewConte: Thanks @kairyssdal, @Marketplace and @jcrew Saving up for #ShortSuit.

— Marketplace (@Marketplace) June 10, 2014

At $18 billion, Uber isn't just competing with taxis

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-09 13:52

The latest venture-capital investment in Uber, a mobile app that allows users to hail a ride in a town car or taxi, pegs the company’s value at more than $18 billion. That's more than United Airlines or Sony, just shy of what car-rental Avis and Hertz are worth together. That may seem high for a company with direct competition like Lyft, Sidecar and the entire taxi industry.

For Uber to be worth what investors are betting, the company might need to capture half of the worldwide market for taxis, says Andy Brennan, author of a recent report on that industry from IBIS World Research.  “I can’t see that ever happening,” he says. “Generally taxi customers are quite price-conscious.”

A ride in one of Uber’s town cars costs more than a cab. “The average person who gets a taxi is not necessarily going to use Uber on a regular basis,” Brennan says.

However, competing with taxis isn’t Uber’s goal. The company’s CEO has identified a much bigger competitor: The personal automobile.

The idea of Americans parting with their cars may sound wild, but younger people may not feel as strong of an urge to own one. “Someone who’s 20-years-old today may be much less concerned with whether their car expresses their personality than with whether their phone or their tablet expresses their personality,” says analyst James McQuivey of Forrester Research.

He sees a future where people could subscribe to Uber like a service. Uber cars—with robot drivers, of course--may deliver their packages, or shlep their kids to piano lessons.

Ultimately, Uber may not just replace a taxi, or a car, but something that hasn’t even been invented yet. “We’ve all been waiting for that personal helicopter, that personal jetpack,” McQuivey says. “But really, you don’t need to move around as much as the stuff in your life needs to move around. And someone will help you do that much more efficiently than waiting for that jetpack.”

Maybe a company with that market is worth at least $18 billion dollars -- because the competition in that scenario is something like Amazon— currently valued at about $150 billion.

Why the celeb mag market is still worth something

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-09 13:51

We've heard again and again that the magazine industry is dying as readers increasingly turn to websites for news and gossip. So, expect a tough road ahead for Time Inc. which has split from its parent company, Time Warner, the owner of money-makers like Warner Bros Studios and HBO.

And while Time's prospects as a magazine company may look grim, Time has something of a trump card in the celebrity magazine, "People." It is Time's top title. Although sales of People have dropped off in the past decade, the magazine, with its mix of celebrity news and human interest stories, still has a weekly circulation of around 3.5 million readers, nothing to sniff at in an age of shrinking readership. 

By Shea Huffman

Another plan to ease the student-loan burden

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-09 13:49

President Obama made an announcement Monday about a popular subject. Or unpopular really: student loans. Under the new plan, if you took out a student loan before 2007, you may be able to cap your loan payments at 10 percent of your discretionary income. That'll add millions more students to a pay-as-you go plan that was passed in 2012.

“This might impact, oh, maybe five million borrowers, but there are 40 million people who have federal student loans,” says Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. Then, he says, there’s the trillion dollars in outstanding student debt, in which  the latest plan will barely make a dent.

Borrowers may see things differently. 

“It could provide for some people, perhaps $50 or $100 a month of relief, which is, for a low income person, is material," he says.

The plan expands an earlier one and will now include students who took out loans as far back as 2007.  It  will also allow borrowers to apply for forgiveness after 20 years of payments.

But it doesn't apply to private loans, says Terry Hartle, senior vice president for the American Council on Education. 

The mount of money that people can borrow for an undergrad education from the federal government has not changed all that much in recent years, and the increase that we’ve seen in borrowing is in part attributable to the large number of private lenders,” he said.

Even so,  Hartle says he's in favor of the new plan. But Vedder says there's a more fundamental problem. The new plan, he says, is "dealing with symptoms, not the disease -- rising tuition fees. 

"What the president is proposing," says Vedders, "might be some help to past borrows,  but it’s going to do nothing to deal with the problem in the future."

Beijing Denounces Vietnam, Philippines 'Farce' On Disputed Islands

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 13:28

China's Foreign Ministry said a get-together between soldiers of the two countries on the Spratly Islands was an effort to "pick quarrels and cause trouble" with Beijing.

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A Reason To Smile: Mexican Town Is A Destination For Dental Tourism

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 13:04

Los Algodones is tiny, but with help from the Internet, the Mexican border town has become a virtual dental factory, drawing patients from across the U.S. and Canada.

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Supreme Court: At 21, Some Children Must Start Visa Process Over

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:43

In an unusual majority, the Supreme Court's liberal and conservative justices have decided that immigrant children who turn 21 while their parents' immigration application is pending must start over.

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The One Thing Obama Didn't Say About Student Loan Repayment

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:33

The president's order expanded the number of people whose student loan payments will be capped at 10 percent of their monthly incomes. But here's the fine print of his announcement.

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Taking Statins May Make People Less Physically Active

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:27

Millions of people are taking statins to reduce their cholesterol. But people on statins exercise less and sit more, a study finds. And that's a health risk for heart disease and many other ailments.

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Human Or Machine? AI Experts Reportedly Pass The 'Turing Test'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:16

A program by two Russian artificial intelligence experts is said to have passed the iconic test by fooling a group of judges into thinking they were talking to a 13-year-old boy.

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Audit Reveals Vast Scale Of VA Waitlist Issues

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:06

Before former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki stepped down, he ordered an audit of the VA system, hoping to find how many hospitals were lying about wait times. The audit found that approximately 100,000 veterans are waiting too long for care at the VA.

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In Las Vegas Shootings, Some Suspect Roots In Anti-Government Militias

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:06

A married couple apparently killed two police officers and another woman in Las Vegas. The husband and wife, also killed in the shooting, appear to have held anti-government and anti-law enforcement views.

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With New Order, Obama Aims To Combat Student Debt Pressures

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:06

President Obama is signing an executive order Monday, which will expand a loan forgiveness program for college debt. NPR's Mara Liasson looks at the program and the political salience of the issue.

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In A Landmark First, An AI Program Fools The Turing Test

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:06

In an artificial intelligence breakthrough, a computer program has become the first to pass the Turing Test, according to scholars in England. Designed by Alan Turing, the test is meant to distinguish machines from humans in a series of natural language conversations. This program fooled humans into believing it was a 13-year-old boy.

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Despite Details Of Bergdahl's Captivity, Answers Stay Scattered

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:06

As Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl recovers in a Germany hospital, details continue to emerge about his captivity, the circumstances of his initial disappearance and the effect his release has had on the military.

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One Week A Prime Minister: The Short Story Of Libya's Former Leader

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:06

Libya faces some of its most serious upheaval since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. No one knows that more than the prime minister who wasn't even in office a week before being forced out Monday.

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California Farmers Ask: Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Some Water?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 12:03

Water is scarce in California, and prices are all over the map. Some farmers are paying almost 100 times more than others. Should water flow to the highest bidder?

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