National News

Top Shiite Cleric Calls For Deal On Next Iraqi Leader Amid Crisis

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-27 04:50

The call Friday by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani came as Human Rights Watch said ISIS militants likely executed at least 160 unarmed men when they took the city of Tikrit.

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Suarez Ban Is 'Excessive,' Bite Victim Says

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-27 04:44

Days after being bitten by Uruguay's Luis Suarez during a World Cup match, Italy's Giorgio Chiellini says Suarez's four-month ban from soccer is too harsh.

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Ukraine Signs Trade Deal With EU, Risking Russia's Ire

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-27 03:13

The economic deal, which comes as a tense cease-fire is set to expire Friday in Ukraine, also includes two other former Soviet states, Moldova and Georgia.

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PODCAST: Bitcoin for sale

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 03:00

With the the commerce department saying that GDP fell 3% in the first quarter -- the largest revision in three decades -- a look at what investors are saying about the stunning downward revision. Plus, more on the auction of $18 million worth of bitcoin by the U.S. Marshal's office. Also, homeless rates have been steadily going down for a number of years, even through the Great Recession. Part of the credit goes to programs that give shelter to the homeless without any preconditions

PODCAST: Bitcoin for sale

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 03:00

With the the commerce department saying that GDP fell 3% in the first quarter -- the largest revision in three decades -- a look at what investors are saying about the stunning downward revision. Plus, more on the auction of $18 million worth of bitcoin by the U.S. Marshal's office. Also, homeless rates have been steadily going down for a number of years, even through the Great Recession. Part of the credit goes to programs that give shelter to the homeless without any preconditions

Mental health parity opens new business opportunities

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

Business may be looking up if you’re a psychiatrist, own a substance abuse clinic or run a residential treatment program for eating disorders. Thanks to changes in the law that have been in the works since 2008, the behavioral health sector will be on more equal footing with general medical care. That means millions more Americans will soon be able to seek treatment for mental health and substance abuse.

As the owner of the Renfrew Center, established in 1985, Sam Menaged could teach a class on ways to persuade insurers to cover patients. But even with all his savvy, Menaged still loses plenty of business.

“Renfrew turns away at least 40 percent of those patients who are referred to us because it’s prohibited under their policies,” he says.

But Menaged thinks the denial days may be ending.

“I’m already investigating other cities to open in, lower levels of care, but also residential care," he says.

If you are in the behavioral health business, 2014 is a defining moment. First, you’ve got the Affordable Care Act, which opens up service to all the uninsured. The law also requires most plans to include mental health and substance abuse services. The University of Maryland’s Howard Goldman says out-of-pocket spending – deductibles and co-pays – is on par with what a patient would spend on general medical care.

“It means that millions more people will be able to seek services in the private sector and have those services covered -- and covered in a way that will not cause them to be bankrupted,” he says.

More patients with better access to care have providers and investors humming. One in four Americans has a diagnosable mental disorder, including individuals with addiction. About 40 million people are expected to get improved access to mental health and substance abuse services by 2016.

With a market like that, it’s no wonder Wall Street has started sniffing around says Mark Covall, President of the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems.

“There [are] huge investments in healthcare. And mental health has been on the sidelines. Today we are seeing investors look at this part of healthcare very differently,” he says.

Covall expects providers to plough new money back into their businesses and find ways to make services more affordable and attractive for insurers.

These new financial opportunities also represent behavioral health’s coming out party.

NYU Dean Sherry Glied says that makes "therapy" and "addiction" less like dirty words.

“We’ve deinstitutionalized in some sense stigma. We’ve taken it out of our insurance institutions. Whether we can take it out of our social institutions remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a big step forward,” she says.

Glied says finally, mental health is just another condition. And there’s room to make money off it, just like every other health condition.

Could Russia sanctions backfire?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

As the Obama Administration considers unilateral sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, business groups are waving red flags.

Both the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have sponsored ads in US newspapers that suggest economic sanctions would really hurt US companies and jobs.

Consider sanctions targeted directly at Russia’s financial sector.

“Any manufacturer that has any office in Russia that uses a Russian bank would no longer be able to transact normal business, meet payroll, pay invoices,” says Linda Dempsey with the National Association of Manufacturers.

Consequences for US companies aside, the real question is: will sanctions work?

“I think US unilateral sanctions send much more of a political message than an economic one,” says Olga Oliker who researches Russia for the RAND Corporation.

She says sanctions would have more impact if they were enacted in concert with Europe.

Giving homes to the homeless without preconditions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

Advocates for ending homelessness reported good news this spring: the number of homeless people in the United States has been doing down for years. It’s a trend that the Great Recession slowed, but did not stop. Advocates credit a strategy called “housing first”: putting people in apartments without pre-conditions — like becoming sober, applying for work, or treating mental-health disorders — and then supporting them with social services.

The strategy cuts against a widespread impulse. Few things are less popular than handouts for the “undeserving poor.”

“Who is more of a poster-child for the undeserving poor than a street homeless person with alcohol and drug addiction and behavior and health problems?” says Dennis Culhane from the University of Pennsylvania.

Culhane's research showed that  leaving those undeserving poor people on the street was really expensive. For instance, they got sick and showed up in ERs. A 2006 New Yorker story by Malcolm Gladwell made just this point, profiling a man Gladwell dubbed "Million-Dollar Murray."

“That has inverted the whole argument,” says Culhane. “The fact that they cost society something has now made their cause deserving." 

Turns out, it’s also easier for people to get off drugs and get their act together when they’ve got a roof over their heads.

Which, put in those terms, sounds like kind of a no-brainer.  

“Doesn’t it?” says Michael Banghart, executive director of Renaissance Social Services, an agency that puts homeless Chicagoans in apartments. “It’s kind of — duh, it sort of makes sense.”  

Still, Banghart admits it took him a few years to catch on. In a year-end review, he asked: Who ended up homeless again? Duh, said the data: people who got kicked out for substance abuse. "We said, 'That’s not working,'" Banghart recalls. "We’re creating homelessness again if we just say, 'You know, if you’re not clean you’re gonna go back to the streets.”'"

Since 2005, the number of chronically homeless people nationwide has fallen dramatically.

Pinpointing chronic-homelessness numbers for Chicago is difficult, but over a recent ten-year period, the city almost doubled its stock of permanent supportive housing, the destination for people served by housing-first approaches.  

Like many cities, Chicago now gives first priority to the most vulnerable people: people who are homeless long-term, those who are mentally ill, and those suffering from addiction.

Still, it takes initiative for someone to get housed. Documenting eligibility requires paperwork and months of meetings with doctors and caseworkers.

Mark Scrimenti got an apartment through Renaissance, though some of his friends are still sleeping in the park.  

"I can give ‘em information," he says. "And they’re all like, 'I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.' But then wintertime comes and they’re underneath their blankets, shaking."

Mental health parity opens new business opportunities

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

Business may be looking up if you’re a psychiatrist, own a substance abuse clinic or run a residential treatment program for eating disorders. Thanks to changes in the law that have been in the works since 2008, the behavioral health sector will be on more equal footing with general medical care. That means millions more Americans will soon be able to seek treatment for mental health and substance abuse.

As the owner of the Renfrew Center, established in 1985, Sam Menaged could teach a class on ways to persuade insurers to cover patients. But even with all his savvy, Menaged still loses plenty of business.

“Renfrew turns away at least 40 percent of those patients who are referred to us because it’s prohibited under their policies,” he says.

But Menaged thinks the denial days may be ending.

“I’m already investigating other cities to open in, lower levels of care, but also residential care," he says.

If you are in the behavioral health business, 2014 is a defining moment. First, you’ve got the Affordable Care Act, which opens up service to all the uninsured. The law also requires most plans to include mental health and substance abuse services. The University of Maryland’s Howard Goldman says out-of-pocket spending – deductibles and co-pays – is on par with what a patient would spend on general medical care.

“It means that millions more people will be able to seek services in the private sector and have those services covered -- and covered in a way that will not cause them to be bankrupted,” he says.

More patients with better access to care have providers and investors humming. One in four Americans has a diagnosable mental disorder, including individuals with addiction. About 40 million people are expected to get improved access to mental health and substance abuse services by 2016.

With a market like that, it’s no wonder Wall Street has started sniffing around says Mark Covall, President of the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems.

“There [are] huge investments in healthcare. And mental health has been on the sidelines. Today we are seeing investors look at this part of healthcare very differently,” he says.

Covall expects providers to plough new money back into their businesses and find ways to make services more affordable and attractive for insurers.

These new financial opportunities also represent behavioral health’s coming out party.

NYU Dean Sherry Glied says that makes "therapy" and "addiction" less like dirty words.

“We’ve deinstitutionalized in some sense stigma. We’ve taken it out of our insurance institutions. Whether we can take it out of our social institutions remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a big step forward,” she says.

Glied says finally, mental health is just another condition. And there’s room to make money off it, just like every other health condition.

Could Russia sanctions backfire?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

As the Obama Administration considers unilateral sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, business groups are waving red flags.

Both the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have sponsored ads in US newspapers that suggest economic sanctions would really hurt US companies and jobs.

Consider sanctions targeted directly at Russia’s financial sector.

“Any manufacturer that has any office in Russia that uses a Russian bank would no longer be able to transact normal business, meet payroll, pay invoices,” says Linda Dempsey with the National Association of Manufacturers.

Consequences for US companies aside, the real question is: will sanctions work?

“I think US unilateral sanctions send much more of a political message than an economic one,” says Olga Oliker who researches Russia for the RAND Corporation.

She says sanctions would have more impact if they were enacted in concert with Europe.

Bidding on bitcoin in a U.S. auction

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

The U.S. Marshal’s office is holding an auction, and those who wish to register are required to send the government $200,000 by wire transfer.

What's for sale? $18 million worth of bitcoins previously stored on the computer servers of Silk Road, an illegal drug website.  

Auctioning off invisible, virtual currency is just like any other U.S. Marshal’s auction, says Andy Schmidt, research director with CEB TowerGroup, a financial services research group.

“From a practical standpoint, there’s no difference," says Schmidt. "You’re breaking up an asset into lots to get the best possible price at auction.”

Schmidt says because this is bitcoin, and the assets to be auctioned were seized from an online drug marketplace, there’s a bit more mystique. But the sale is also just business, says Jaron Lukasiewicz, CEO of Coinsetter, a bitcoin exchange based in New York.

"The auction is a rare opportunity for someone who makes a particularly huge purchase of bitcoin to enter the space at a great price," says Lukasiewicz.

Which is exactly what Lukasiewicz notes several hedge funds are hoping to do.  

Andy Schmidt says it’s unlikely the auction will affect the price of bitcoin. But he says a sale run by the government may have a chilling effect on potential buyers who may not wish to register their names with the U.S. Marshal’s office. Especially after it accidentally leaked email addresses of parties interested in the auction.

Giving homes to the homeless without preconditions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 02:00

Advocates for ending homelessness reported good news this spring: the number of homeless people in the United States has been doing down for years. It’s a trend that the Great Recession slowed, but did not stop. Advocates credit a strategy called “housing first”: putting people in apartments without pre-conditions — like becoming sober, applying for work, or treating mental-health disorders — and then supporting them with social services.

The strategy cuts against a widespread impulse. Few things are less popular than handouts for the “undeserving poor.”

“Who is more of a poster-child for the undeserving poor than a street homeless person with alcohol and drug addiction and behavior and health problems?” says Dennis Culhane from the University of Pennsylvania.

Culhane's research showed that  leaving those undeserving poor people on the street was really expensive. For instance, they got sick and showed up in ERs. A 2006 New Yorker story by Malcolm Gladwell made just this point, profiling a man Gladwell dubbed "Million-Dollar Murray."

“That has inverted the whole argument,” says Culhane. “The fact that they cost society something has now made their cause deserving." 

Turns out, it’s also easier for people to get off drugs and get their act together when they’ve got a roof over their heads.

Which, put in those terms, sounds like kind of a no-brainer.  

“Doesn’t it?” says Michael Banghart, executive director of Renaissance Social Services, an agency that puts homeless Chicagoans in apartments. “It’s kind of — duh, it sort of makes sense.”  

Still, Banghart admits it took him a few years to catch on. In a year-end review, he asked: Who ended up homeless again? Duh, said the data: people who got kicked out for substance abuse. "We said, 'That’s not working,'" Banghart recalls. "We’re creating homelessness again if we just say, 'You know, if you’re not clean you’re gonna go back to the streets.”'"

Since 2005, the number of chronically homeless people nationwide has fallen dramatically.

Pinpointing chronic-homelessness numbers for Chicago is difficult, but over a recent ten-year period, the city almost doubled its stock of permanent supportive housing, the destination for people served by housing-first approaches.  

Like many cities, Chicago now gives first priority to the most vulnerable people: people who are homeless long-term, those who are mentally ill, and those suffering from addiction.

Still, it takes initiative for someone to get housed. Documenting eligibility requires paperwork and months of meetings with doctors and caseworkers.

Mark Scrimenti got an apartment through Renaissance, though some of his friends are still sleeping in the park.  

"I can give ‘em information," he says. "And they’re all like, 'I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.' But then wintertime comes and they’re underneath their blankets, shaking."

Silicon Tally: A hurricane shelter grows in Brooklyn

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:00

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

This week, we headed to Brooklyn, where we met up with Jim Garrison of Garrison Architects. Garrison is currently showing off his design for a post-disaster urban housing prototype .

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Everybody's working for the Marketplace Weekend

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-27 01:00

Well, here we go.

Marketplace Weekend. A brand new Marketplace show. Yes, it’s got part of the DNA you know, but hopefully a little something new.

Our goals are context and conversation. Where do you fit in the big news stories of the week? Why do they matter for the future? And how can we invite you to talk to us?

Yep. Backtalk. We want it!

This show does not start when I begin talking into a microphone, and it doesn’t stop when you hear me say “this is APM.” There are two key segments a week where we want listeners to participate – online and on the air.

The first is with personal finance. We’ll ask a question on the show, invite you to share your experiences, and then talk about them on the air. This week, we’re looking at the “Gray Economy.” Essentially, what you may have done to get by that was a little…outside traditional lines.

Next week, we’re going to talk about the fine print. Has it tripped you up? Helped you out? Weigh in on our site, record yourself and send it in, or tweet us @marketplacewknd.

In the second segment, you get to vote a Marketplace reporter off the island! Okay, not exactly. It’s more like voting them ON the island.

Like a story you heard on Marketplace this week? Let us know. Then we’ll bring the reporter on to Marketplace Weekend to dig a little deeper. This week you’ve been sharing a lot of reactions to Washington reporter David Gura’s story on paid family leave. So we’ve got him back on to answer some questions, and share a few tidbits from his notebook that didn’t make it into his original piece.

If you hear a story you want to explore further, just let us know

Finally, radio is a team sport. You may hear my voice, or that of another Marketplace reporter on the air, but there’s so much more going on. A fantastic group of people has been working really hard to help get this show on the air.

Yeah, you hear their names in the credits, but here’s another special thanks to Raghu Manavalan, John Sepulvado, Candace Manriquez, Bill Lancz, Paul Brent, Deborah Clark, and our senior producer and my partner in crime, Dan Szematowicz.

Now let’s do it again next week.

Iraq's Ethnic Kurds See Opportunity In Nation's Chaos

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 23:36

As the Iraqi army crumbled before militants this month, the nation's ethnic Kurds are taking back long-sought areas and revisiting the dream of declaring themselves an independent state.

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A Century Ago In Sarajevo: A Plot, A Farce And A Fateful Shot

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 23:23

On June 28, 1914, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand sparked World War I. NPR's Ari Shapiro takes a tour of the city and learns the improbable story behind that shot heard round the world.

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Clock Is Ticking For Aung San Suu Kyi's Presidential Bid

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 23:22

An unusual constitutional rule stands in between Myanmar's most famous political prisoner and the presidency. And despite popular protest, an amendment, at the moment, appears unlikely.

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As Pig Virus Spreads, The Price Of Pork Continues To Rise

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 23:21

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has killed more than 7 million piglets in the past year. There's no cure, but a vaccine that may protect piglets has been approved even though it's still being tested.

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Drink Up: NYC Ban On Big Sodas Canned

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 22:23

Big sodas can stay on the menu in the Big Apple after New York state's highest court refused Thursday to reinstate the city's first-of-its-kind size limit on sugary drinks.

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Wiggins Is No. 1, Napier To Miami In NBA Draft

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 22:13

The Cleveland Cavaliers used the first overall pick to select Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins. The Charlotte Hornets drafted Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier with the 24th pick and traded him to Miami.

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