National News

Congress Says It Will Not Tolerate 'Agents Gone Wild'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 07:40

The latest episode: sexual misconduct and security lapses by employees at the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Secret Service.

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A Year After Deadly Ferry Disaster, S. Koreans Still Awaiting Answers

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 07:38

As South Korea marks the first anniversary of the accident that killed 304 people, the root causes of the sinking are still unclear, and parents of the victims are embroiled in a political tug-of-war.

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Guilty conscience: the 1099 economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 06:44

Mat Honan is the San Francisco bureau chief for BuzzFeed News, and writes about the technology industry and its impact on society. Honan recently wrote about the guilt one may feel when taking part in the on-demand economy. The full article, "LOL Everything Matters When Everyone Is Connected,"can be found on BuzzFeed:

Our washing machine is broken. Or, at least, the pipe it drains into is. Despite all my attempts to fix it, crawling around on my belly with a pipe wrench and a plumber’s snake, all I have to show is a broken PVC pipe, a minor chemical burn, and a mountain of laundry that our family of four has piled up. So last night, I put in an order with Washio, an on-demand laundry service. And this morning, an extremely nice and highly professional woman showed up at our door, promptly at 7 a.m., took away our laundry, and left us with a chocolate pastry from a bakery in Oakland.

It was amazing, and I feel conflicted about it.

It’s the same kind of feeling I have whenever I take an Uber, or Lyft, or use Instacart to pick up groceries, rather than going myself. I found myself apologizing to the woman who picked up our laundry. “Our washing machine is broken,” I explained. “Well that’s good business for us,” she countered. And it’s true, I guess. Why wouldn’t she be happy to have work? A job is a job when you need one.

And yet my guilt stems not from whatever her own personal experience is as much as it does the remaking of the great American economy into a vast labor market of contract workers — the 1099 economy — whose days are dictated by the whims of mobile software and whose job security is often determined by the numerical star rankings of a capricious and harried market.

Continue reading, "LOL Everything Matters When Everyone Is Connected"

Former NFL Player Aaron Hernandez Found Guilty Of Murder

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 06:26

In 2013, Aaron Hernandez was a three-year NFL veteran who was accused of killing the boyfriend of his fiancee's sister. A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday.

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When Keeping A Secret Trumps The Need For Care

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 06:08

Young adults covered by their parents' health plans may balk at getting treatment for mental health or other conditions they would rather not have show up on family insurance statements.

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You Didn't Check The 'Presidential Election Campaign' Box On Your Taxes, Did You?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 06:03

The little box is for presidential public financing. At first, it was relatively popular but now fewer people are checking the box and more candidates are rejecting the funds.

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EU Charges Google With Antitrust Violations, Will Also Look At Android

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 05:16

Saying that Google abused its dominant position in the search market "by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product," a European panel releases a list of antitrust charges.

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At Walter Scott's Funeral, An Unexpected Conversation

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 04:39

When Clemson University professor Chenjerai Kumanyika attended the funeral this weekend, he found himself discussing gentrification — and his own role in the changes in North Charleston, S.C.

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On 'One Boston Day,' City Marks Marathon Bombings' Anniversary

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 03:31

A moment of silence will be observed at 2:49 ET, the time when the first of two devastating bombs went off in the crowds gathered to watch the marathon in 2013.

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Google accused of abusing its search engine dominance

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 03:00

Authorities in the European Union have filed a complaint against Google claiming the company violated anti-trust laws. 

More specifically, there's accusations that Google has abused its search-engine dominance to steer people to other Google products and services. Authorities have also announced an investigation into Google's Android operating system.

Click the media player above to hear Marketplace Tech guest host Adriene Hill in conversation with Marketplace's Molly Wood. 

PODCAST: IRS warns about a scam

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 03:00

Airing Wednesday, April 15, 2015: One week into the spring season for companies to reveal profits, losses and reveal plans for the future, we check in with our regular Brian Reynolds for the morning open. Plus, there is news today that the Chinese economy grew at its slowest rate in six year. The numbers are for January to March, and annualized it's down to a 7 percent growth rate. Magnificent by US standards but lackluster by China's standards which has to keep creating jobs for people pulled into the economy from the hinterlands. Finally, we can't go without talking about tax day. And while people across the country rush to meet the midnight deadline to file or to file for an extension, the Treasury department is warning about a phone scam - where the caller impersonates an IRS agent and demands money.

A deadline extension

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 03:00

It's the income tax deadline day, unless you filed for an extension. Turns out that is a popular course of action. If you're getting an extension, I'm on your side, in a world of just-in-time worker scheduling, juggling little league games, the babysitter and bosses sending you urgent action email at 10:47 at night. But Marketplace's explainer in chief, Paddy Hirsch is more hard core than I, and apparently sees a nation of procrastinator here. 

Click on the above multimedia player to hear more on just why people put it off until the big day. 

 

Shelly Sterling Wins Case Seeking Millions In Assets From V. Stiviano

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:43

V. Stiviano, the one-time companion of former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, must return millions of dollars in gifts, a judge has ruled in a lawsuit that was filed by Sterling's wife, Shelly.

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Ivy League schools key into online courses

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:03

Yale University’s School of Medicine is deciding whether to create an online version of its physician’s assistant master’s program. Its first attempt failed because it couldn't get accreditation.  Yale says it’s “reviewing the matter” and may try again.

Yale’s partner in all this is the education technology company 2U, which has plenty of other customers, many of them Ivy League schools.

“There’s a lot of demand for us right now,” says Chip Paucek, CEO of 2U. He says universities want to enroll students online to address shortages of workers in some fields. But online degrees also bring in more tuition dollars.

“A university needs to figure out how to pay its bills and be sustainable," he says. "Just like any enterprise.”

But some degrees lend themselves more to online learning than others.

“So learning statistics or data science online, certainly learning some of the computer sense, skills and knowledge,” says Andrew Kelly, education scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Kelly says degrees that require hands-on training, like physician’s assistant’s programs, are more difficult, because universities have to find hospitals where online students can train. 

IRS warns of sophisticated telephone scam

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The Treasury department says thousands of people have fallen victim to a phone scam, where a caller impersonates an IRS agent, and threatens criminal penalties and other legal action if money isn't paid immediately.

The agency says it is the largest scam of its kind and has spanned more than a year and a half. Americans have been duped out of more than $14 million, and the calls have surged in recent months, authorities say.

"The clients that I've had inquiries from run the gamut," says David McKelvey, an accountant at Friedman LLP, "an elderly person... younger people, they're business owners, they're employees."

Paul Gevertzman, a tax attorney at Anchin, Block & Anchin, says the scammers have increased the sophistication of their deception, making the calls seem legitimate.

"They're able to basically mimic an IRS address on your caller ID," says Gevertzman, "It gives a little more validity. And you think, 'this really is the IRS, because it says so on my phone.'"

The IRS says the agency will never make an initial contact with a taxpayer by phone. It will do so by certified mail.

If you have questions about your tax obligation, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

And if you think you have been targeted by a phone scam, you can call the Inspector General for Tax Administration at the Department of Treasury to report the incident at 1-800-366-4484.

How to make a movie for $300

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

When Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg made Noah, a 17-minute film focusing on a young man’s relationship online, the intention was to shoot at least part of the film in the real world.

But they quickly realized how expensive it was to build a set or hire a crew, including actors.  

“We just basically thought, 'Ok, how could we just make all of this happen on a computer screen?'” said Walter Woodman, one of the directors. “He (Noah) has to see that his girlfriend breaks up with him. How are we going to do that? We could do that through a Facebook post.”

That was easier than it sounded. They tried making fake Facebook accounts but Facebook deleted them. So Woodman and Cederberg turned their own profiles into those of the film’s protagonists: Noah and Amy.

“We kept breaking up and getting back together,” said Woodman. “So our actual friends would mess up takes and we would be like 'No, don't comment on this!'”

The point of filming the entire movie online, Woodman said, was to “peel back the curtain of artifice that is these constructed media profiles.”

“I think the view that you get from Noah is a really voyeuristic view,” he added. “You get to see not only what people type but what they backspace.”

The biggest takeaway from this project? The fact that it cost $300. That, according to Woodman, is among technology's biggest contributions.

“There’s less barriers to tell stories and less barriers means you’re going to get people who are saying what they actually want because they don't need to go through the typical gatekeepers that once prevented really creative people from making stuff,” said Woodman.  

School lunch's food fight

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing Wednesday on the reauthorization of the 2010 "Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act".

Proponents say the nutritional requirements in the law help address America's epidemic of childhood obesity. The School Nutrition Association supports the reauthorization of the act, but it opposes the full implementation of the nutritional rules. 

The SNA says the requirements, such as a gradual lowering of sodium levels and a mandate to increase whole grain content, turn students off of healthy food options. Research from the University of Connecticut came to the opposite conclusion.

The SNA has come under attack for its ties to food and beverage conglomerates, whose products could be pushed out of lunch rooms if the sodium rules were to go into full effect.

New Proposed Rules for Retirement Investments

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

Federal regulators are proposing new rules to protect retirement savings. As part of Obama’s stated plan to bolster the middle class, the Labor Department proposed changes to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The rules are designed to protect retirees from investment brokers who put their own financial interests above their clients and eliminate conflicts of interest that encourage brokers to steer their clients into unsound investments.

Olivia Mitchell is director of the Pension Research Council at Wharton and she says these new rules will force brokers to be more transparent. “What that will mean is that if you do charge for your advice you have to disclose up front how you are charging and how that impacts the client.”

This is an issue now says Mitchell because there’s been a big shift away from pensions to individual retirement accounts. Regulators estimate that these new rules will save retirees $40 billion over the next 10 years. But that’s if they go into effect in their current form. As of today, the public and industry groups have 75 days to submit comments on the new rules to regulators.

The financial services industry has pushed back in the past on rules like these. In 2011 the labor department retracted its first proposal because the financial services industry thought the rules went too far.

IRS warns of sophisticated telephone scam

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The Treasury department says thousands of people have fallen victim to a phone scam, where a caller impersonates an IRS agent, and threatens criminal penalties and other legal action if money isn't paid immediately.

The agency says it is the largest scam of its kind and has spanned more than a year and a half. Americans have been duped out of more than $14 million, and the calls have surged in recent months, authorities say.

"The clients that I've had inquiries from run the gamut," says David McKelvey, an accountant at Friedman LLP, "an elderly person... younger people, they're business owners, they're employees."

Paul Gevertzman, a tax attorney at Anchin, Block & Anchin, says the scammers have increased the sophistication of their deception, making the calls seem legitimate.

"They're able to basically mimic an IRS address on your caller ID," says Gevertzman, "It gives a little more validity. And you think, 'this really is the IRS, because it says so on my phone.'"

The IRS says the agency will never make an initial contact with a taxpayer by phone. It will do so by certified mail.

If you have questions about your tax obligation, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

And if you think you have been targeted by a phone scam, you can call the Inspector General for Tax Administration at the Department of Treasury to report the incident at 1-800-366-4484.

A conversation with director of the U.S. Patent Office

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

Over at US Patent and Trademarks, they don't use the word "troll." This is kind of patent holder who is less interested in using a patent and more interested in holding up other people for licensing money even if they haven't actually infringed. With the patents and trademarks people celebrating the 225th anniversary of the Patents Act this month, we reached Michelle Lee, the newly confirmed Director. We discussed the her preferred term "abusive litigation," intellectual property, and how to encourage innovation. 

Click on the multimedia player above to hear more.

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