National News

Affordable Care Act Makes This Tax Season Painful For Many

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 04:29

Figuring out the penalty for not signing up for health insurance is just one complication. Tax filers who made more money last year than they anticipated may have to pay back some of their subsidy.

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Heinz, Kraft Announce Merger

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 03:33

The deal would create the world's fifth-biggest food and beverage company. It would bring together under one corporate roof iconic brands such as Heinz, Kraft, Oscar Mayer and Philadelphia.

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Super Slick Coatings Conquer Ketchup, But What About Ebola?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 03:03

A new coating makes ketchup slide out of the bottle and toothpaste slip out of a tube, right down to the last drop. So why not put the slick surface on an Ebola suit so the virus doesn't stick?

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PODCAST: What do you do with a liberal arts education?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-25 03:00

Kraft and Heinz announced today they are merging. It's a $40 billion plus deal that unites some of the biggest names in processed foods. There's even a Brazilian angle here. More on that. And a hedge fund called American General has increased its bid for what remains of bankrupt Radio Shack, up $20 million to $165 million according to Reuters. We talk about how the store seemed to have become less about electronics and more about bugging you to buy batteries and extended warranties. And It is the season for colleges and universities to announce what they're charging for the coming academic year. In the face of this, students and parents around the country want to know that all this money will lead to a job sometime. This is the argument to make higher ed more vocational, and tailor the courses to jobs. But where does this leave liberal arts education? 

Black Box From German Crash Damaged, But Could Still Hold Clues

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 02:57

France's energy minister says the key to the inquiry is what happened in the two-minute span that began at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The crash of the Germanwings plane killed all 150 people on board.

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State pension checkup: Better, still not great

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-25 02:01

States' pension funds are better off today than they were during the Great Recession, but that doesn't mean they're healthy.

Russell Walker, Vice President of Wilshire Consulting, said "in the depths of the financial crisis ... the funding ratio dropped down to 64 percent. That funding ratio is what's known as the asset to liability ratio. That means for every $100 governments promised beneficiaries, they only held $64."

But today that ratio is at around $80. The economy isn't entirely to blame for that down-in-the-dumps number from 2009. Keith Brainard, research director for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, said some states, like Illinois, Connecticut, and Kentucky, "have chronically shorted their pension contributions both when the economy was strong and when the economy was not so strong." 

A pre post-mortem for RadioShack

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-25 02:00

RadioShack is bankrupt and on the auction block. Sources tell Reuters that a hedge fund called Standard General has just increased its bid for some 1,740 stores to about $165 million dollars. It's bidding against liquidators that would sell off the remaining inventory, store fixtures and real estate.

If Standard General wins, the idea is a partnership with Sprint to sell phones and phone plans. It's worth it at this juncture to ask ourselves: how did it come to this?

Heather Landy is the global news editor for Quartz and has been digging deep into the sad demise of the Shack. 

Click the media player above to hear Heather Landy in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

University of Phoenix faces new competition for online students

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-25 02:00

Apollo Education Group is expected to announce its second quarter earnings before the market opens Wednesday. Apollo, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, has been regrouping after years of declining enrollment.

For-profit colleges are attracting fewer students, as the economy has improved. Companies have also scaled back to head off new regulations aimed at shutting down failing programs. As interest in online education grows, Apollo is also facing more competition, says Wells Fargo analyst Trace Urdan.

"They’re losing share primarily to traditional colleges that have moved online over the past couple of years," he says.

Universities like Arizona State and Southern New Hampshire have bet heavily on online education.

U. of Phoenix faces new competition for online students

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-25 02:00

Apollo Education Group is expected to announce its second quarter earnings before the market opens Wednesday. Apollo, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, has been regrouping after years of declining enrollment.

For-profit colleges are attracting fewer students, as the economy has improved. Companies have also scaled back to head off new regulations aimed at shutting down failing programs. As interest in online education grows, Apollo is also facing more competition, says Wells Fargo analyst Trace Urdan.

"They’re losing share primarily to traditional colleges that have moved online over the past couple of years," he says.

Universities like Arizona State and Southern New Hampshire have bet heavily on online education. 

Using technology to empower women in Saudi Arabia

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-25 02:00

Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-saud, an entrepreneur and member of the Saudi Royal Family, recently traveled to SXSW Interactive in Austin to talk about how technology is empowering Saudi women. 

Born in Riyadh, Princess Reema grew up in Washington DC while her father was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. She is now the CEO of Alfa International, a Saudi Arabia-based luxury retailer, and she’s also a major advocate for breast cancer awareness in her country.

We sat down with her to talk about training women to work in Saudi Arabia and what role technology plays in society.

Tell me about educating women about navigating the complexities of the workplace in a country where women's rights are still quite restricted?

What we’re doing is training the frontline of employees to be able to have the skillsets to learn to work. Because if you train someone how to use the cash register but you don’t actually train her how to use HR or train her how how to engage in dialogue with her coworkers, she's not actually going to be a very successful salesperson. But it’s not a skillset that’s given. You have to learn it. Just to give you a heads up. I might have been the CEO of the company but it took me two years to ask for a salary.

So you weren’t being paid?

No. But I also didn’t ask. And you should have seen the horrified faces on the board when they realised. They were like, "what do you mean you haven’t been paid?" I was like, "well, who am I supposed to talk to?" Now take that down to a woman that has no exposure and no experience. So I want to make sure nobody goes through that.

Do you think new technology plays a role at all in helping to make that happen?

Yes. Because everybody is talking to everybody and everyone is listening to everybody right now. It’s not second hand. It’s not tomorrow. It’s not next week. If you said it today, I can read it today. And so you can actually action change very fast these days. I think.

You know, you’re referencing social media in some ways right?   

Yes.

Are there complexities to that when it comes to how it happens in your country?

Yes, because you're not talking to one group of people. We’re talking to five different generations simultaneously. And when you’re talking to five different generations, who are you looking out for in the change that you’re making?

Do you think people are fully comfortable being totally honest on social media?

I think it depends on what subject and what topic and what environment. I mean, I can tell you: religion? Don’t touch it. And it’s just about my right to say it. Somebody has to hear it so be more conscientious in the words that you use.

But at the same time I feel like you’re hinting that there's a lot of positive coming out of this?

Amazing positivity. Because half the people that I have connected to that are making 10 KSA  happen are people that are engaging with us on social media. I can tell you one thing that blew my mind.  

Yeah, please.

WhatsApp. When we were launching our social media, I sent out 500 WhatsApp messages and then I went on to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and I am like "oh, my god!" 70 people, 120, 45...I am like, "oh, my god, it is now already a global message."

What’s your favorite iPhone app?

Instagram! I love Instagram. I am like the queen of Instagram.

What do you Instagram?

I travel a lot for work. And I find it so much easier to post a picture than to send 50 emails, send a 100 text messages or write something on Facebook. I really don’t want to say too much. I just want you to know where I am and what I have seen and that I have seen something great.

It's the cheesiest...and now the ketchup-iest, too

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-25 01:59
$28 billion

Kraft Heinz Co., which will form as the result of the newly announced merger between Kraft Foods Group Inc. and H.J. Heinz Co., will become the fifth largest food and beverage company, with an estimated $28 billion in revenue. As reported by the WSJ, combining the companies will save the two a predicted $1.5 billion in operating costs by 2017. That's a lot of ketchup on a lot of mac and cheese.

$6

The price for a one-way ride on Leap, one of a couple transit start-ups that have appeared in Silicon Valley recently, and nearly three times the cost of San Francisco city bus. The Leap buses are luxurious, with premium interiors, wi-fi and cold press juices available for purchase, the Verge reported, and they offer a complement to the area's notoriously slow and crowded public transit – for those who can afford to ride. 

65 million

The number of names and addresses, along with 13 million emails, that are up for sale along with RadioShack's other assets as it emerges from bankruptcy, Bloomberg reported. It's not yet clear what the customer data is even worth or if it can even be included in the sale, pending a bankruptcy court ruling.

$1.025 trillion

The total annual cost of urban sprawl in the U.S., according to a report from LSE Cities and the Victoria Transport Policy Institute as reported by CityLab. Those costs come from reduced natural and farm land, as well as increases in transportation and infrastructure needs.

101 hours

That's how long Mike Miller of Jackson, NJ will sing karaoke in order to break the Guiness World Record for longest karaoke marathon. Miller, a safari warden at Six Flags Great Adventure, started at noon on Tuesday, and is expected to finish Saturday at 6 PM. The stunt is meant to help raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Safer Anthrax Test Aims To Keep The Bioweapon From Terrorists

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 01:14

Current tests require growing anthrax in the lab, which isn't the best option for labs in Afghanistan. So engineers have come up with a credit-card-sized test that could make the world a safer place.

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2-Minute Span Is Key To Jet Crash In French Alps That Killed 150

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 00:35

A damaged cockpit voice recorder and a time gap when the pilot lost contact are vital clues into what caused the plane to go down, killing all 150 people on board, officials said Wednesday

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'Borland Effect' A Fumble For Football? Deford Says It Will Pass

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 00:23

San Francisco 49ers player Chris Borland is retiring from the NFL after a single season to avoid potential brain injuries. Some see this as the beginning of the end of football's popularity.

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Oakland Kids Get A Raise From The New Minimum Wage

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 00:21

The highest minimum wage in the nation just went into effect in Oakland, Calif. But what does that mean for young people and how are businesses making it work?

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A Couple Spends Their Millions To Save Migrants In The Mediterranean

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 00:20

With record numbers fleeing the Middle East and Africa in overcrowded boats, the Catrambone family is conducting private rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

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Vanilla, Nutmeg Spice And Everything Nice On A Zanzibar Farm

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 00:19

Three spices that grow on Zanzibar are so common they might be flavoring your morning cup of coffee. But vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg have very different origins.

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Remote Jailing Cuts Off Inmates From Real-World Support System

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 00:18

County jails that send inmates far away to serve short-term sentences can be a cost-saver to local governments. But it could have major consequences when prisoners are released.

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Obama Administration Emissions Rules Face Supreme Court Test

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 00:03

The rules are aimed at limiting the amount of hazardous pollutants coming from coal and oil-fired utility plants. They're being challenged by industry groups and more than 20 states.

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Retired Oakland Police Officer Recruits Locals To Police Their Own City

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-24 16:35

Police departments around the county are under pressure to diversify. In Oakland, Calif., officials say police-community relations might improve by increasing the number of cops who live there.

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