National News

At Least 11 Dead In Shooting At Satirical Publication's Office In Paris

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:35

President François Hollande said this was a "terrorist operation." Back in 2011, Charlie Hebdo printed a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad. Its offices were burned by a petrol bomb attack.

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New House Leadership Passes A Tax Cut 'Scoreboard'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:26

"Dynamic scoring" would favor tax cuts as a way to bring in more revenue for the government. But critics of the system are calling it "a gimmick."

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Consumer bureau may go after payday loans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:00

Rules for payday loans vary state by state, and to date, there are no federal regulations overseeing the loans other than for service members in the military.

But now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the industry needs reform and is looking at implementing what would be the first federal regulations. 

Payday lenders say they serve the “under-banked,” but few other products subject borrowers to such high interest rates. Critics charge that the industry offers predatory loans and targets the poor. So why have the loans been largely unregulated so far, and if regulations are doable, what might a regulated payday loan market look like?

Click the media player above to hear more.

The CFPB goes after payday loans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:00

Rules for payday loans vary state by state, and to date, there are no federal regulations overseeing the loans other than for service members in the military.

But now the CFPB says the industry needs reform and is looking at implementing what would be the first federal regulations. 

Payday lenders say they serve the “under-banked,” but few other products subject borrowers to such high interest rates. Critics charge that the industry offers predatory loans and targets the poor. So why have the loans been largely unregulated so far, and if regulations are doable, what might a regulated payday loan market look like?

Click the media player above to hear more.

Restaurants shell out for high-priced scallops

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:00

This year, some fishermen are calling them white gold. What are they? Scallops, of course.

Freshly harvested scallops are plump, firm and should have still-twitching adductor muscles. That’s right. According to Rod Mitchell Browne, the owner of Browne Trading Company, a seafood business in Portland, Maine, “A fresh scallop always moves. The muscles kind of quiver when you first cut them.” He adds, “You can eat them raw very easily.”

Scallop season in Maine runs for only 70 days during the frigid winter months. Here, almost all of these valuable bivalves are harvested on boats that go out and come back on the same day. Their catch is called dayboat scallops. People around the country swear the most delicious scallops are from the state’s rugged coastline, even though Maine represents only around 1/100th of the total U.S. sea scallop industry.

Maine dayboat scallops being sorted and weighed at Browne Trading company in Portland, Maine. 

Caroline Losneck

 But this year, if you love Maine scallops, you’ll pay for your expensive tastes.

Mitchell says fewer than 1 percent of Maine scallops stay in the state. Most dayboat scallops he buys are shipped within 24 hours of being landed to some pretty fancy out-of-state places like like Le Bernardin and Daniel in New York City, or French Laundry in Napa Valley. But this year, Maine dayboat scallops won’t stay on menus for long.

That’s because five years ago, the state implemented new catch limits to protect the valuable fishery after stocks reached historic lows. This year, fishermen who operate Maine’s 400 day boats say they’ll probably exhaust quotas by late January, well before the season officially ends. And that means some fishermen are getting a big payday. Maine's Department of Marine Resources says in the past five years, prices paid to fishermen have increased each year, hitting an all-time high of $15 a pound this season.

Togue Brawn is the owner of Maine Dayboat Scallops in Portland, Maine. She buys freshly harvested dayboat scallops from fishermen Obie Spear, which she ships out as fast as she can to places around the country. Today, Spear brings in 83 pounds of scallops and he gets a check for $1,252 bucks for his “white gold.”

Brawn ships those scallops to appreciative customers like Chef Andrew Gerson, at Brooklyn Brewery in New York. He says Maine dayboat scallops are “almost like candy. I mean, there’s this real level of sweetness that I think offsets the salinity.” Chef Gerson willingly pays between $20 to $28 dollars a pound.

And his customers don’t seem to mind. For some things, the price is worth it.

The cost of saving factory jobs via lower wages

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:00

President Barack Obama is in Michigan today to highlight the resurgent automotive and manufacturing sectors. The auto industry employs over 730,000 workers in the U.S. (according to the Center for Automotive Research), back to levels not seen since before the recession. Hallelujah, right?   

"So, the returning jobs aren't the same quality as the jobs that we lost,” says Catherine Ruckelshaus, Director of the National Employment Law Project, which documented the decline in manufacturing wages. Auto workers, she says, are no exception. "Parts plants, which pay as low as $8 an hour are employing 75 percent of auto workers today."

Others say there actually is wage growth in the manufacturing sector, just not in unskilled labor. 

"CNC machinists, highly-skilled welders, I just keep coming across companies who say they just can't seem to find the people they need," says Gary Pisano of the Harvard Business School. 

Pisano says the U.S. can and should grow its manufacturing with technical and productivity gains, not low wages, and that is the best outcome for both workers and employers.

Consumer prices slip in the eurozone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 01:30
730,000 workers

President Barack Obama  is in Michigan on Wednesday to highlight the resurgent automotive and manufacturing sectors. The auto industry employs over 730,000 workers in the U.S. (according to the Center for Automotive Research), back to levels not seen since before the recession. But others aren't sure its time to celebrate, as the quality of jobs is lower than it once was.

0.2%

That's how much consumer prices in the eurozone fell last month in comparison to December of 2013, according to the European Union’s statistics agency. As the WSJ reports, it's putting pressure on the European Central Bank to bolster its stimulus program sooner than later.

6 hours

On average, unemployed women spend that much time each day caring for others or doing housework, according to the American Time Use Survey. Men averaged less than half that, and were far more likely to spend the majority of the day watching TV or relaxing. The Upshot has a breakdown in several beautiful charts.

$15 a pound

That's the (all-time high) cost of scallops coming out of Maine this season. It's largely due to the state's newly implemented catch limits to protect the valuable fishery after stocks reached historic lows. This year, fishermen who operate Maine’s 400 day boats say they’ll probably exhaust quotas by late January, well before the season officially ends.

440

That's how many extra calories Americans tend to buy during the holidays, the Washington Post reported. But after the holiday, that number doubles and the extra food becomes less healthy, flying in the face of most folks' go-to New Year's resolution.

4,369

Amazon's sales ranking for Moisés Naím's "The End of Power," before Mark Zuckerberg put it at the top of his reading list a few days ago. Now it's in the top-ten and being restocked after initially selling out, Quartz reported. Turns out Zuck might be the new Oprah.

U.S. Court Weighs Texas Law's Burden On Women Seeking Abortions

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 23:40

The law — which mandates stricter building codes for clinics that perform the procedure — has already forced the closure of dozens of clinics that provide abortion.

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A Bed Of Mouse Cells Helps Human Cells Thrive In The Lab

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 23:37

Researchers have developed a powerful method for growing human cells in the laboratory that has led to some unusual findings. Cell tests suggest a malaria drug might work against cervical cancer.

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Divers Spot Tail Of AirAsia Plane In Java Sea

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 21:48

It's the first confirmed sighting of any major wreckage 11 days after Flight 8501 disappeared with 162 people on board, an official said.

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Gunmen, 1 Victim Dead In Shooting At Texas VA Clinic

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 21:35

An unidentified gunman opened fire at the El Paso Veterans Affairs Health Care System clinic Tuesday afternoon. The shooter and an unidentified victim are dead.

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Construction Begins On California's $68 Billion High-Speed Rail Line

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 18:53

Once completed, the line could travel faster than 200 miles an hour and get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than three hours. But the project only has a fifth of the funding it needs.

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Two Small Earthquakes Shake Dallas; Jokes Ensue

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 17:12

Some residents said they felt nothing; some worried about the effects of fracking; others joked about it all.

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Botched Lethal Injection Executions Reignite Death Penalty Debate

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 13:45

Capital punishment and lethal injection were in the news quite a bit in 2014. Unable to secure certain drugs, states began using new ones, and that caused a number of executions to go awry.

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Republican Majority Makes Boehner's Job Easier — And Harder

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 13:39

Republicans formally took full control of Congress for the first time during Barack Obama's presidency on Tuesday. Republicans took over the Senate and added to their majority in the House.

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Kirby Delauter, Who Didn't Want His Name In A News Story, Is Now A Story

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 13:23

Frederick County, Md., Council Member Kirby Delauter threatened a local reporter with a lawsuit for using his name in a story without permission. The Frederick News-Post responded in an editorial.

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An Army Chaplain, First Tested By War, Finds His Faith Renewed

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:54

When David Peters went to Iraq as an Army chaplain, his relationship with God faltered. But after years of feeling adrift, he eventually found that the trauma of war had actually deepened his faith.

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DishTV's New Service Targets Cable Cord Cutters

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:53

DishTV is offering a new digital service for cord cutters — ESPN and a dozen other channels for just $20 a month. Does it lead to a cable-less future?

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Record lows on bond market: A cause for concern

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:50

It was a day of record low yields in the global bond market on Tuesday. In the U.S., the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond fell below 2 percent, while in Europe record lows were set in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France and the Netherlands. Germany and Japan both have 10-year bond yields under 0.5 percent.

But what do these record lows tell us about the real economy? 

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says that the low yields are surprising, especially during a recovery. Steven Major, head of fixed-income research at HSBC and one of few analysts to predict that 10-year U.S. Treasury bills would remain at 2.1 percent at the end of last year, says it may seem like a contradiction to those watching short-term indicators like quarterly gross domestic product growth, because bonds pay off over many years.  Steven Englander, global head of G-10 foreign exchange strategy at Citigroup, agrees that the bond market is hinting at something deeper and more long-term.

Summers identifies the deeper trend as one of "secular stagnation": High savings and low investment. It's not a cause for panic, but he says it is a cause for concern.

NYPD Union Leader: Apology From De Blasio Would Go A Long Way

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 12:48

Patrick Lynch, the head of the big New York City Police Department union, the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, has been a outspoken critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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