National News

U.S. Releases Documents Seized From Osama Bin Laden's Compound

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 08:05

Newly declassified materials include books, magazines and letters found during the 2011 raid on the al-Qaida leader's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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Grassley To Justice Department: Crack Down On Medicare Advantage Overbilling

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 07:57

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking the Obama administration pointed questions about what is being done to investigate alleged fraud, waste and abuse by Medicare Advantage plans.

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'Cartel' Of 4 Big Banks To Plead Guilty To Gaming The Exchange Rate

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 07:15

Four banks agreed to plead guilty to currency manipulation and pay over $5 billion in fines. Officials say the banks used secret codes to manipulate the exchange rate between U.S. dollars and Euros.

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Black Rhino Is Killed By U.S. Hunter Who Won Controversial Auction

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 07:10

Corey Knowlton of Dallas won an auction last January for a hunting permit that would allow him to kill a black rhino weighing around 3,000 pounds.

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Oil Spill Off California Fouls 4 Miles Of Coastline

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 05:14

A pipeline rupture spilled some 21,000 gallons of crude about 20 miles up the coast from Santa Barbara. Some beaches were evacuated, and it's unclear if they will reopen in time for Memorial Day.

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Indonesia, Malaysia Agree To Take In Stranded Rohingyas

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 03:54

The "boat people," as they've been called, have been stranded at sea for weeks with little food or water. Indonesia and Malaysia say they will take them in temporarily.

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PODCAST: Skin in the game

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-05-20 03:00

How the head of the fed is keeping Wall Street workers chained to their desks ahead of the long holiday weekend. Plus, the Senate Education Committee meets Wednesday. Senator Lamar Alexander, who chairs the committee and is a former secretary of education, has proposed that colleges share in the risk of lending to student. He says this would lead to reduced student borrowing. How would it work if colleges had “skin in the game” and how realistic is the proposal? We'll also talk to Allan Sloan of the Washington Post about the costs of investing in a hedge fund.

In Speech, Obama Will Cast Climate Change As 'Immediate Risk' To U.S. Security

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 02:36

President Obama is expected to discuss the dangers of climate change when he delivers the commencement address today at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday.

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If students default, should colleges pay up?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-05-20 02:00

In the Senate, a committee hearing on Wednesday is scheduled to look at the idea of having colleges pay part of the cost of student loan defaults, which totaled $99 billion in 2014.

Some seven million Americans have defaulted on their student loans, and 70 percent of them are college drop-outs. They average about $14,000 in student debt.

"You want people to care about the debt beyond the day after they issue it, and to make colleges somewhat financially responsible," says Ben Miller, who studies education policy at the Center for American Progress.

To do that, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions is considering whether colleges should pay back the federal government a portion of any defaulted debt. It's also considering what that payback should look like: whether it should be a set fee, or a percentage of the loan amount, for example.

Pauline Abernathy, vice president of The Institute for College Access and Success, supports the idea of college debt default accountability. Her organization has provided feedback to the Senate committee on what form that should take. But, she says there are also risks to consider in crafting any future legislation.

"We don't want to provide any disincentive for schools to enroll low- income students, who may in some cases have a higher risk of default," Abernathy says.

While a potential bill could be a couple of years away, Abernathy says there does seem to be increasing bipartisan support for the concept of having colleges share in the risks of student loans.

In the 2015 fiscal year, the U.S. government's college grants and loans will total about $138 billion.

Even with insurance, people avoid the doctor

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-05-20 02:00

Among people 65 and under, almost two-thirds are covered by private health insurance plans, according to the CDC. But that doesn’t mean health care is affordable. A report released today by the Commonwealth Fund shows that rising deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses are a serious problem for more than 30 million underinsured working-age adults.

Knee replacements, hysterectomies, even getting prescriptions filled, are all things people with insurance are opting not to do, simply to cut down on out-of-pocket costs, says Jeffrey Rice, CEO of Healthcare Bluebook. “As deductibles have gone up, patients’ expenses have gone up,” he says.

A mid-range health insurance deductible can be $1,200. What’s more, Rice says, over the past 20 years, the cost of healthcare has shot way up.

“What used to be $150 visit to the ER to get a few stitches now turns into a $2,000 or $3,000 bill,” Rice says.

So a lot of people are thinking long and hard before going to the doctor. Dylan Roby, of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, says many health plans try to steer people toward preventive care. But here’s the catch: “If there’s not enough education and awareness about it, people still are going to see the deductible upfront as a big cost barrier,” he says.

Roby says if people take time to learn what’s free under their health plans, they might avoid bigger problems later.



The perfect writing surface

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-05-20 02:00

We're launching a series called Pro Tool: Tools of the Professional. What we're looking for is that must-have device in the possession of anyone in the workforc, be they hair dresser, welder or writer.

The second item in our series? A notebook.

Professional: J. Robert Lennon, writing professor at Cornell University and author of seven novels and two story collections, including most recently "See You in Paradise."



Courtesy of the author 



Pro Tool: A Seven Seas journal, bound by Nanami Paper of Irvine, California.




Lennon stamps the front of his notebook with his chop to signify which side is the front.




Why it's a Pro Tool: "It's made with this amazing Japanese paper called Tomoe River paper. It's very thin and glassy. If you like to write with a fountain pen ... it's the perfect surface." - J. Robert Lennon

Cost: $19 and up.



Apple says the best things in life aren't freemium

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-05-20 01:56
13 percent

That's how much iTunes music sales dropped last year, and that means Apple is using its remaining pull in the music industry to set up its next big move, Harvard Business Review reported. The tech giant wants labels to pressure Spotify and other streaming services to drop their "freemium" model ahead of its rumored relaunch of Beats Music.

12 percent

The share price for auto supplier Takata fell as much as 12 percent on Wednesday, following Tuesday's announcement that many of its airbags — about 34 million — are faulty and require a recall. The problem has to do with the airbags rupturing when deployed, causing several deaths and many more injuries. As the New York Times reports, it's the largest recall related to automobiles ever. 

$99 billion

That's the total amount of defaulted student loans in 2014. With such high figures, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions is considering legislation that would force colleges to pay back some of that defaulted debt. But some experts worry that such a requirement might discourage universities from accepting low-income students who may be a statistically higher risk for default.


That's how much a Seven Seas journal costs. Made with Japanese Tomoe River paper, it's a little pricier than your average pad or notebook. But writer J. Robert Lennon says it helps him do his job well. Find out more over at "Pro Tool: Tools of the Professional," our series on the must-have devices in the hands of working professionals.

30 million

That's the number of underinsured, working-age adults in the U.S. And according to a new report, many of these people are opting not to seek out expensive treatments in spite of being insured. The reason? Rising deductibles and out-of-pocket costs force people to second guess when is the right time to call the doctor.

$19.35 per hour

That's how much, on average, a household would have to earn at a full-time job to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the U.S. That's according to a new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The report lays out required household pay by state, some of them many times the minimum wage there.

In The Classroom And On the River, Modeling Success In Science

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-19 23:31

Meet Caroline Solomon, an associate professor of biology at Gallaudet University, the renowned school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

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Pollinator Politics: Environmentalists Criticize Obama Plan To Save Bees

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-19 23:30

The White House's new plan to reverse dramatic declines in bee numbers calls for the restoration of 7 million acres of bee-friendly habitat. Critics say the plan ignores a key culprit: pesticides.

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The Other Sacred Thing Tom Brady Squashed: Sportsmanship

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-19 23:29

Tom Brady could be guilty of one of the worst transgressions in sport — purposely defiling the part of the game that makes it fair and square.

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An NPR Reporter Raced A Machine To Write A News Story. Who Won?

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-19 23:27

Machines are taking on jobs that once seemed robot-proof. But can a machine replace radio reporters? We pit a human against a machine to find out.

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Live On Pakistani TV: A Call-In Show About Sex

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-19 23:25

Sex is a topic not often broached in a conservative Muslim country like Pakistan. Yet a cable TV program hosted by a male doctor has proved popular, particularly among 30-something women.

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She's Got One Of The Toughest Diseases To Cure. And She's Hopeful

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-19 23:25

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is a growing problem. It's spread through the air. It can kill you. And it's incredibly difficult to treat. But a program in Peru shows that the disease can be cured.

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How A Bigger Lunch Table At Work Can Boost Productivity

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-19 23:24

Some firms use motion sensors and wireless tags to find out how people actually work. That can yield useful data, such as which free snacks tend to draw people into break rooms where they congregate.

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Many Native American Communities Struggle With Effects Of Heroin Use

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-19 23:21

Native Americans have some of the highest substance abuse rates compared to other ethnic groups. Alcohol and meth are the drugs of choice. Now, cartels are taking advantage of lax police enforcement.

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