National News

As Cease-Fire Nears, Europe Warily Watches Fighting In Ukraine

NPR News - Fri, 2015-02-13 04:24

Despite Thursday's breakthrough, "The enemy shelled positions of the 'anti-terrorist operation' forces with the same intensity as before," a Ukrainian military official said Friday.

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California Health Exchange Considers Extending Enrollment Deadline

NPR News - Fri, 2015-02-13 04:07

Plenty of uninsured people will discover they owe a penalty as they file their taxes over the next two months, and will also learn they could be locked out of buying insurance to solve the problem.

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Obama To Urge Companies To Share Data On Cyber Threats

NPR News - Fri, 2015-02-13 03:13

The Obama administration promotes a framework for sharing information about data breaches, hoping to prevent or limit attacks like those that recently hit Sony and Anthem Inc.

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PODCAST: The film industry heads south

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 03:00

A very interesting report to watch is consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan. This early February reading will be especially helpful after the oddly anemic retail sales report yesterday, given new jobs being created and low gas prices. We get to the bottom of this emerging economic conundrum. Plus, When it comes to North American film production, Hollywood, New York, and Vancouver, Canada are obvious hot spots. But they are not alone. Among regions that have been using incentives to lure production is Georgia.

CEOs skip cybersecurity summit

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 03:00

President Barack Obama is in Silicon Valley Friday for a summit on cybersecurity.

He's trying to get more cooperation from tech companies in responding to massive data breaches. But some key players aren’t showing up.  

The CEOs of Google, Yahoo and Facebook are skipping the summit. They’re sending their information security executives to the summit instead. Only Apple’s Tim Cook will be there. 

Some analysts say the big tech dogs are staying away because of tensions between the White House and Silicon Valley.

“Most of it comes from the fact that the government wants to have their hands into everything," says tech analyst Jeff Kagan. "They want to control everything.”

He says specifically, the feds wants backdoor keys to software. The government says it needs the keys to, say, prevent a terrorist attack. 

But some Silicon Valley giants have protested. Kagan says more government control would hamper innovation.

“I think the government wants to have a hands on approach, and that’s something that  would be a death knell to the growth curve that we’ve seen over the last few decades. And that’s the struggle,” he says.

Kagan says it’s a matter of balance. President Obama is proposing a framework companies could use to share information during a major data breach, like we just saw at the insurer, Anthem. He thinks that could help.

The CEOs of American Express, Master Card, Visa and Walgreens are expected at Friday’s summit.

 

 

 

 

Georgia's film industry sees a boom

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 02:00

The Hunger Games. Selma. The Walking Dead. Georgia's film industry has seen rapid growth in the past decade, anchored by some of the biggest movies and television shows.

Chris Carr, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, says film has grown from a $250 million-a-year industry in 2007 to more than $5 billion in 2014. The state offers incentives, including a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend at least $500,000 in state, and an additional 10 percent for producers willing to insert the state's peach logo into the credits.

Ed Richardson and Brian Livesay, CEOs of 404 Studio Partners, at the site of what will become Atlanta Metro Studios. 

Noel King

Brian Livesay is the CEO of 404 Studio Partners. His company will handle sales and marketing for the Atlanta Metro Studios, a new space currently under construction. He says he never considered Atlanta to be a movie-making hub, until a project he was working on was lured from Los Angeles to Atlanta. Now, he's in Georgia for good. And that state hopes to make stories like his the norm. 

Consumers are confident. So why aren't they spending?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 02:00

Consumer sentiment is now at the same level as in 2004, well before the Great Recession hit. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey for February (preliminary) will be reported Friday, and the consensus among leading economists is that the measure will move modestly higher — to a reading of 98.5, compared to 98.1 in January.

“The American consumer is doing better, maybe paying down some debt, spending more,” says economist Chris Christopher at IHS Global Insight.

But consumers still aren’t on a spending spree. Retail sales in January were up only 0.2 percent after excluding volatile cars and gasoline (the figure was -0.8 percent including cars and gasoline). In December, spending (excluding cars and gasoline) didn’t rise at all.

“Median household income, adjusted for inflation, is still approximately 7 to 8 percent lower than it was in 2008,” says Christopher. “There are a lot of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. Lower pump prices are helping them spend on higher food prices, which have been relatively elevated over the past year.”

Economists don’t expect consumer spending to rise strongly until wages across the income spectrum begin increasing at a faster pace than inflation, month after month.

The market doesn't charge for Florida's climate risk

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 02:00

Twenty-year government bonds and thirty-year mortgages are bumping into the horizons for serious damage to South Florida from rising seas. So far, those enormous risks haven’t sent home prices tumbling, or sent borrowing costs skyrocketing. The trillion-dollar question is: When and how will the market start charging for those risks? 

Financially, the most important piece of information about rising seas clobbering Miami and South Florida is the one nobody knows: When, exactly?

"Geologic time doesn’t give us that answer," says John Englander, author of “High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis.”

"It doesn’t get us down to human time scale of, 'What decade will it happen?'" he says. "Or, 'What year will it happen?'"

As a Fort Lauderdale home-owner, Englander thinks that uncertainty works to his advantage, for now. He thinks he might sell in five or ten years — to get out while the getting is good — and he thinks his case isn’t unusual. Even though the typical mortgage is 30 years, many home-owners think about their investment in five-year increments.

That’s the same horizon bond-rating agencies use when they evaluate public-works plans. That's as far as they can look, says Geoff Buswick, who runs the public-finance infrastructure group at Standard and Poors.

"Once you get past that, the financial forecasts are softer," he says. "Fifteen years from now, it could be a completely different management team, and a completely different environment."

There’s a reason big investors are OK with a five-year evaluations of what may be, on paper, a bond with a 20, or 30 or 100-year payoff.

"They’re not planning on holding that for 30 or a hundred years," says Sharlene Leurig, who runs the sustainable water infrastructure program for the non-profit Ceres. "They’re planning on flipping it, maybe in eight." 

So, from all sides, the risks don’t get priced into the market.

"Everyone thinks they’re going to be the first to realize where the risk is, the first to liquidate," says Leurig. "And that there will be an opportunity to roll that capital into the next thing, which will be less risky."

Keith London seems like someone who should be especially concerned about the risks of South Florida real estate. He’s a city commissioner and longtime homeowner in the Miami suburb of Hallandale Beach. Rising seas have already required some big spending there, just to protect the city’s drinking water supply.  

But he doesn’t think his town has it worse. Just first.

"We are the canary in the coal mine," he says. "We have all the issues and all the problems. But this is a bigger problem than just South Florida. There’s going to be global disruptions, everywhere."

He hopes that means global mobilization to address the challenges.

Meanwhile, he thinks South Florida is a fine place to live.

Everybody's a television producer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 02:00

Move over, Amazon Prime and Netflix. BitTorrent is getting into the original content business. 

The company, known for its peer-to-peer file sharing platform, is teaming up with Rapid Eye Studios to create what they’re calling BitTorrent Originals. The first will be a sci-fi video series aimed at the coveted 14- to 25-year old-set, launching later this year.

“There’s really been an explosion of investment in originals, and a lot of this is borne out by what appears to be an insatiable appetite from consumers,” says S&P Capital IQ analyst Tuna Amobi.

BitTorrent has made efforts to shed its image as an enabler of illegal downloads by making deals to sell content from the likes of Radiohead and director David Cross. Still, in attracting advertisers for its new original shows, Rapid Eye Studio head Marco Weber says “the young and rebellious image of the brand” is a selling point.

Chocolate is more expensive. Everything is terrible.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 01:30
100 lots

That's how many lots the city of Newark, New Jersey is selling for $1,000 a piece to couples of any sexual orientation as part of a special Valentine's day sale. As reported by NJ.com, the loving land owners must agree to build a home and live on their new plottage. 

54 percent

While only 20 percent of Fifty Shades of Grey readers were male, 54 percent of buyers of a Shades themed Teddy Bear are men. Some say merchandising from the film subjects that were once taboo into marketable commodities. And pre-ticket sales are doing well, also. See our grey-shaded chart below:

20 percent

Speaking of Fifty Shades of Grey, back when details of the film were being disrobed, some were titillated by reports that a fifth of the film would be sex scenes. That may be unusual for the film industry, but as Quartz points out, its kind of old news for television.

$700 million

That's how much Americans are likely to spend on Valentine's day ... for Fido. We really do love our pets. Check out more not-so-sunny Valentine's day facts over at Time, including the quantifiable amount that love dies over time.

$2,921.05

That's last month's price-per-ton for cocoa. As reported by the NY Times, that's higher than last year, partly due to greater global demand for dark chocolate, especially in Asia. So be prepared to spend more on sweets for your sweet.

Silicon Tally: Fly the friendly (and cheap) skies

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 01:30

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

This week, we're joined by Brian Kelly, otherwise known as "The Points Guy." Kelly prides himself on being "able to book exciting and extravagant trips for next to nothing through his hard-earned loyalty points and airline miles, flying first class."

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Fraud Case Casts Spotlight On Medicare Advantage Plans

NPR News - Fri, 2015-02-13 01:03

An indictment in Florida is likely to draw heightened scrutiny to potential billing fraud in privately run Medicare plans. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of government oversight.

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The Black Market For Stolen Health Care Data

NPR News - Fri, 2015-02-13 00:55

The U.S. is moving to digitize health care with electronic medical records, web portals and mobile apps. But as medical data goes online, it is becoming a hot commodity for hackers.

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Outmanned And Outgunned, Fighters Defend Yazidi Shrine Against ISIS

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:43

Led by a celebrated Yazidi fighter, a small band of Kurdish peshmerga survived a months-long ISIS onslaught. Unlike others in Syria and Iraq, this sacred place still stands, nearly unscathed.

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A Community Takes On Racial Tensions Once Hidden Under The Surface

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:33

People move to Austin's Mueller neighborhood to become part of a progressive community. But some black residents say they haven't always felt welcome — so Mueller decided to do something about it.

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Finding A 'Radio That Is Just A Radio' In The Digital Age

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:32

World Radio Day was created to celebrate the medium's ability to reach all corners of the globe, due to its affordability and portability. But how common are radios that still fit that description?

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Can A Computer Change The Essence Of Who You Are?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:31

The latest episode of NPR's Invisibilia takes us online. Some people think interacting with these machines is changing us all — for better and worse.

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Chapel Hill Shooting Victims Were 'Radiant,' Teacher Says

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:30

One of the young students killed in Tuesday's shooting in Chapel Hill, N.C., Yusor Abu-Salha, spoke to StoryCorps last year with her former third grade teacher.

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David Carr, New York Times Media Columnist, Dies At 58

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 19:06

The widely read journalist died after collapsing in the newsroom, a colleague reported late Thursday. Carr was also known for his memoir, investigating his own addiction to alcohol and drugs.

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WATCH: President Hawks Obamacare In Buzzfeed Video

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 17:12

Obama has been known to try to reach out to a younger generation by appearing on silly web videos. This is no exception.

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