National News

Health care for foster youth, if they can find it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-01 04:32

Just a few months ago health care navigators wanted desperately to get young people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. There was an all-out advertising blitz aimed towards young people between the ages of 18 and 34 to get them to sign up for health insurance.

More than 6 hours of Obamacare commercials on YouTube? That smells like desperation. 

But it seems like everybody forgot something. Not LeBron James, not  Zak Galifianakas, and not JLo's mom or the other famous people who made commercials for Obamacare mentioned the part of the law that lets young people who aged out of foster care sign up for extended Medicaid, and keep it until age 26. 

Kimberly Waller researches the ACA and foster care. She says the provision came about as an issue of fairness. "Advocates started realizing hey, what happens when the state's your parent?" she says.

When the state is your parent, you should now be able to get on their plan -- that's Medicaid -- until age 26. But states don't have to do any outreach about the provision. Waller says many young people don’t know they’re eligible, and that, "a right is only empowering if you know about it."

Kamille Tynes aged out of foster care in Michigan. She’s 23 now and in college. She’s good at navigating the ins and outs of government programs. Even she found the process confusing.

"I initially applied through, what is it, the market health care something website," she remembers.

That would be the Every state is different, but in Michigan, kids who age out of foster care need to apply for healthcare through the agency that runs foster care. (It's not an intuitive process. If you need it, here are tips and a more detailed walk through the application).

For her part, Tynes just kept trying to apply. "I was told how you mention that you were in the foster care system and you aged out," she says. But, "I got denied."

She's not really sure why that happened, because she does qualify. Tynes just wants to go to the doctor and not rack up debt to do it. Former foster care youth like her have a lot more health care needs than others their age. But Tynes hasn't been to the doctor in over two years.

In Michigan, foster care advocates are working to draw attention to the glitches in the sign up process. Tynes did end up getting some help on her application from an advocate she knows.

It made a difference. Kamille Tynes sighs and says she's "finally!" insured. But she also laughs happily as she mimes holding her new health insurance card up high. She's already made her first doctor's appointment. 

How LinkedIn is trying to stay afloat

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-01 03:46

Twitter's stock hit a new low this week, and it seems that right now Wall Street doesn’t have much love for the social-media sector. Despite revenue growth, the sector is seeing a slowdown in users signing up and in advertising sales.

Could LinkedIn weather the storm better than its competitors? 

One a chunk of its revenue comes from corporate recruiters and member fees. 

But Geoffrey James says he thinks LinkedIn is safe because it focuses on what nearly all of us do: work. "And that's its beauty," he says. "It's work. It's the lack of the funny cat pictures," he says. 

Sharing cat pictures may come and go, but sharing who we are as workers, James says, has staying power.

2 Feet Of Rain Causes Massive Flooding In Florida, Alabama

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 03:31

The record rainfall in some areas comes close on the heels of dozens of tornadoes that killed dozens of people across a swath of the country earlier this week.

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Explosion At Florida Jail Kills 2, Injures Dozens Of Inmates

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 02:27

Local authorities were describing the incident at the Pensacola jail as a possible gas explosion. It's not yet clear whether the extensive flooding that has hit the region may have played a role.

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Is It Still College Without Football?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 23:40

Temple University in Pennsylvania and the New College of Florida are keeping costs low by cutting amenities and some varsity sports. But will running this play make them less attractive to applicants?

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Sinn Fein Leader Arrested Over 1972 IRA Killing

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 21:31

Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams was being interrogated Thursday over the 1972 slaying of a Belfast widow that has haunted his political career for decades. Her bullet-shattered skull was found in 2003.

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Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni Resigns

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 21:23

Team spokesman John Black confirmed Mike D'Antoni's resignation, ending the brief tenure of the Lakers' fourth head coach in less than three years.

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Hundreds Rescued From Flooding In Florida Panhandle

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 20:09

Nearly 2 feet of rain have fallen on the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast in the span of about 24 hours, the latest bout of severe weather that began with tornadoes in the Midwest.

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Experimental Technique Coaxes Muscles Destroyed By War To Regrow

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 17:13

By surgically transplanting material from pig bladders into the injured legs of several men, doctors prompted muscles to heal by growing and nurturing fresh, healthy cells.

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Will Take Leave, Seek Help For Substance Abuse

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 17:04

Ford, who has been dogged by controversy after he admitted to smoking crack, is leaving in middle of a mayoral campaign. The announcement also comes with reports of new covert recordings of the mayor.

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Exoplanet's Spin Detected For First Time — And It's Fast

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 16:41

Planet β Pictoris b spins at 62,000 miles an hour, about twice as fast as Jupiter and 50 times faster than Earth. A day lasts just eight hours.

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FAA Slowly Lifting Ground Stop In West After Technical Problem

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 15:18

Airplanes at airports in some Western states, including California, were grounded because of computer problems. Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles saw major delays.

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States Struggle To Find An Execution Method That Works

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 14:18

For a generation, nearly all death penalty states followed the same lethal injection protocol. Now they're forced to improvise — some say experiment — which has led to several botched executions.

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Nino's No-No: Justice Scalia Flubs Dissent In Pollution Case

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 14:06

It's more than embarrassing when a Supreme Court justice makes his decision based on facts that he's gotten wrong. The court has corrected the record, but the slip has stuck among legal cognoscenti.

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When the best advice comes from the worst sources

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 13:56

Would you trust business advice from a CEO that watched his company go bankrupt? Or relationship advice from someone who was accused of murdering their spouse?

Zac Bissonnette, author of the book "Good Advice from Bad People", says there are plenty of people who think they can give this type of advice through speeches or books. Usually, it’s when these people are at the height of their careers. And sometimes, they speak too soon.

"It just struck me about a year ago, how easy it is to become an inspirational icon or a self-help expert and that kind of thing," says Bissonnette. "And how often, the people who we look to for wisdom are terrible at following their own advice."

While in the process of writing, Bissonnette noticed a trend in his research.

"Most of the CEOs that I found were cultivating personality-driven brands right at the apex of their careers, right before it all goes to hell," says Bissonnette.

But the desire for self-help books, guides and products in our modern society is significant. Despite the recession in 2008, America spent $11 billion on self-improvement products.

"In our desperate need for motivational figures, we make almost no effort to vet them," says Bissonnette.

Defense Intelligence Agency Chief Will Step Down

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 13:56

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn clashed with other intelligence officials and sources say he tired of the bureaucratic fights in Washington.

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Who wants to be bigger than the U.S.? Not China!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 13:52

A new World Bank report suggests China's economy could surpass America's this year (by one measure, at least). But far from taking a triumphant tone, China's government is rejecting the numbers. Chinese leaders are wary about how their country's rise to the top could increase pressure on them to make concessions on carbon emissions, trade policy, currency and international aid.

There's another reason for China's muted response to this news: trumpeting strong growth numbers likely wouldn't be well received by the hundreds of millions of Chinese still living in poverty.

"The Chinese government usually reacts in a very quiet way," says Yale University finance professor Zhiwu Chen. "They realize that China overall, it's still a developing and a poor country."

All this is not to say that Chinese officials aren't privately excited about economic growth. Just don't look for any champagne, or Moutai toasts on camera.

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Mark Garrison: China tends to downplays news like this because of global politics, says Peterson Institute senior fellow Nicholas Lardy.

Nicholas Lardy: It certainly puts pressure on them to do more in the international arena.

When the numbers say you’re a bigger deal, other countries push you harder to give aid, change trade policy and stop screwing around with your currency. Dartmouth business school associate dean Matt Slaughter explains that rising in the ranks also brings attention to Chinese industrial pollution.

Matt Slaughter: The faster is China’s growth, the more the world legitimately looks to China for any meaningful carbon reduction.

China also worries about how economic news plays domestically, where hundreds of millions still live in poverty. Yale finance professor Zhiwu Chen says trumpeting growth numbers wouldn’t go over well at home.

Zhiwu Chen: The Chinese government usually reacts in a very quiet way, because they realize that China overall, it’s still a developing and poor country.

Remember, Lardy adds, China tops another important chart.

Lardy: All of the measures are in a sense a little bit artificial, because they’re a function to a considerable extent of the fact that China has 1.3 billion people.

Spread over its giant population, the swelling GDP isn’t much per person. Now all this doesn’t mean Chinese officials aren’t excited about economic growth, says Milken Institute managing director Perry Wong.

Perry Wong: To be ranked #1, they may celebrate in private.

But any champagne, or Moutai toasts won’t be done on camera. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

New York parents opt out of high stakes tests

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 13:37

Last year, Amelia Costigan watched as her twin sons and their fourth-grade classmates prepared for the new state tests. It was the first year New York’s assessments were based on the Common Core, the nationally standardized curricula that many states have adopted in recent years. And, a lot was at stake in New York. The kids literally worried themselves sick. 

“My kids had trouble sleeping,” Costigan says. “Other kids had stomach aches. Kids were going to the doctors, and the doctors were saying it looked like it was stress from the test.”

The tests determined whether her sons advanced to the next grade, or got into a top middle school. Scores also played into teacher evaluations and school rankings. This year, Costigan and the parents of eight other kids at her school decided they didn’t want their kids to participate. 

“It was a hard decision that some of them had. They cried. They worried they weren’t going to go to graduation, but in the end, all 10 kids opted out,” she says. 

Parents’ groups estimate about 1,000 kids in New York City won’t be taking the Common Core assessments this year. Statewide, it’s about 35,000. Those numbers are hard to verify and they represent just  a tiny fraction of the total number of kids sitting down for the math tests this week.  

But opting out is the most drastic—and visible—part of a growing protest movement in New York and nationwide. Parents, teachers, and other critics have been holding rallies, trying to put an end to the standardized tests. 

Dan Bobkoff/Marketplace

At a rally in Lower Manhattan last week, Liz Rosenberg says her fourth grade daughter wasn’t scared of the tests at first.  

“She was super psyched to take it,” she says.

But Rosenberg was anything but psyched. Part of her objection is that questions and answers are not released after the test, so it’s hard for kids to know what they don’t know. She convinced her daughter that the tests are a bad idea. This year, she’s opting out. 

“It’s important to stand up. It’s important to talk back,” Rosenberg says.

Many teachers and critics believe the math is confusing and the English questions are too hard. Fourth graders are being asked to assess middle school level reading, some say.  

“We felt the questions did not actually assess whether children were reading with understanding, which we thought was really important to assess,” says Elizabeth Phillips, principal of PS 321 in Brooklyn.  

She’s not anti-testing or against the Common Core, but she say seeing the English exams turned her off. 

Phillips was also concerned that so much was riding on these tests. Like other critics, she held protests. And, to some degree they worked.  

“Up until a few weeks ago, there really was a lot at stake,” she says. 

Dan Bobkoff/Marketplace

Recently, New York officials scrambled to lower the stakes. No longer will test scores go on students’ permanent records. And, they won’t be used as the major determinant of whether kids go onto the next grade. 

Officials think that change will go a long way to placate many nervous parents.

“Knowing that the state test will only be used as one of multiple factors has eased some of those concerns,” says Emily Weiss, senior executive director of performance at New York City Department of Education

At some point, if too few students take the tests, some schools could lose funds.

That’s still far off, but with opposition to the tests mounting, New York’s fight could be coming to a state near you. 

Dan Bobkoff/Marketplace

Botched Execution Leads Doctor To Review His Principles

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 13:35

Of the 32 states that currently allow capital punishment, all rely on lethal injection as the means. Seventeen of them require a doctor to be present during the injection.

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If Clippers are for sale, what's the franchise worth?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 13:35

As the next step in the public punishment of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, the NBA says it’s going to try to force him to sell his team. But this isn’t exactly a fire sale.

The traditional profit-focused reasons for buying a sports franchise are well established says Michael Leeds, a sports economist at Temple University. “I mean, you can go back to the 19th century," he says. "People would buy baseball teams because they owned a tavern nearby and they wanted to sell their beer.”

Nowadays, Leeds notes, owners are more likely to buy shares in media networks, but he says the payoff for ownership can come in different forms.

“When you own a sports franchise, you join a very exclusive club," he says. "As George Steinbrenner once said, 'Before I bought the Yankees, I was just some ship builder in Tampa.'”

Leeds says there’s a rush that comes with seeing your name in the paper, and some buyers are willing to pay a premium for that. Celebrities from David Geffen to Oprah Winfrey are reported to be interested in buying the Clippers. And all that buzz can drive prices up. While Donald Sterling  bought the Clippers for only $12 million dollars more than 30 years ago, one currenet estimate is $575 million






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