National News

Compound From Soil Bacteria May Help Fight Dangerous Germs

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 09:15

A natural compound kills germs that have become resistant to antibiotics, researchers say. If it works in humans, it could help combat diseases like tuberculosis.

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United In Grief, Cartoonists Show Solidarity With 'Charlie Hebdo'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 09:03

From France to Australia, India and the U.S., cartoonists around the world paid tribute to their colleagues at the French magazine that was attacked today.

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A Magazine Staff Is Slaughtered, A French Nightmare Is Realized

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 08:13

The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo kept taking jabs at Islamic radicals despite a 2011 firebombing that destroyed its office.

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Why Some Chefs Just Can't Quit Serving Bluefin Tuna

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 08:01

Japanese sushi chefs can't say no to Bluefin tuna on offer. Some American chefs can't, either, even though conservation groups and marine biologists have been badgering them about Bluefin for years.

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For 'Charlie Hebdo,' A History Defined By Humor, Controversy — And Cartoons

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 07:46

Renee Montagne talks to NPR's David Folkenflik about the provocative editorial stance adopted by the French satirical magazine, which was attacked by gunmen this morning in Paris.

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AirAsia Flight's Tail Spotted In The Java Sea, Official Says

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 07:22

It might provide clues to what caused the flight to crash Dec. 28 with more than 162 people on board. An aircraft's black boxes — the flight data and cockpit voice recorders — are located in its tail.

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Quiz: The source of public college revenue? Students.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 06:21

Median tuition at public college rose 55 percent between 2002 and 2012 as other funding sources declined, according to the Government Accountability Office.

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'Charlie Hebdo,' A Magazine Of Satire, Mocks Politics, Religion

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 06:14

The magazine that was the target of a deadly attack today is part of a long tradition of French satire dating to the days before the French Revolution.

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Between Speech And Religion, Freedoms Often Spell Friction

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 06:03

Renee Montagne speaks with Suzanne Nossel, executive director for PEN American Center, to discuss how issues of free speech and religious freedom can clash.

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Education Plan: Sell Goat, Ride Bus 500 Miles, Sneak Into Prez's House

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 05:35

Getting into high school was a long, strange journey for 11-year-old Ugandan orphan James Arinaitwe. It started when his grandmother sold the family goat to pay for shoes and a bus ticket.

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The age of the community banker

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 03:00

Right now there are three economists and two lawyers on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and two empty seats. President Barack Obama has faced pressure from politicians to mix it up; add someone with experience in the small, local banks. 

In appointing Allan Landon, former CEO of the Bank of Hawaii, the President has done so—Although with $14.5 billion in assets, the Bank of Hawaii is hardly tiny.

“It’s helpful to have somebody who has experience as an on the ground banker,” says Elizabeth Duke, the last Fed Governor with community banking experience. Duke served from 2008 to 2013.   

The Fed has more regulatory powers than ever before, and small banks experience regulation differently than large banks.

“The fewer people you have, the harder it is,” she says. “If you go way back to the last crisis—savings and loan crisis—there were 63 implementing regulations and at the time my bank only had 62 employees.”  

Orienting regulations to make them easier to follow for small banks is important. “Even on monetary policy it’s good to have a ground level view of how things are going,” she says. “Monetary policy is implemented through the banking system, through lending, and having the experience dealing with small businesses helps to understand how will this work as it moves through the banking system.”

But the idea of the community banker on the Fed board has become somewhat politicized in recent years. For some conservatives, a local banker would be a bulwark against onerous legislation. For some liberals, a community banker would be a protector of Main Street against the interests of Wall Street.

Lawmakers including Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Senator David Vitter want to require the President to appoint at least one community banker to the Fed Board.  Former Fed Governor Elizabeth Duke, as well as current Fed Chair Janet Yellen, oppose this.

“There are only seven seats and a lot of different profiles that need to be filled,” says Duke.

The Federal Reserve has long been fiercely protective of its independence.

Frederic Mishkin served on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors from 2006 to 2008. He says, “When we’ve had community bankers on the Federal Reserve Board, they have played a positive role. But we should not have a litmus test saying because a person’s a community banker, they’re qualified, or because a person’s an economist, that person is qualified.”

It’s going to be a big year for anyone sitting on the Fed Board—The Fed is expected to raise interest rates for the first time in nine years.

PODCAST: Expensive scallops

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 03:00

First up on today's show, we'll talk about President Barack Obama's nomination of Allan Landon, a community banker, to the Fed. Plus, the CFPB is going after payday loans. We look at why this industry been largely unregulated so far, and if regulations are doable, what might a regulated payday loan market look like. And turkey season is over, so it must be scallop season. But, this year, the people that love Maine scallops will pay for their tastes. 

At Least 11 Dead In Shooting At Satirical Publication's Office In Paris

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:35

President François Hollande said this was a "terrorist operation." Back in 2011, Charlie Hebdo printed a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad. Its offices were burned by a petrol bomb attack.

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New House Leadership Passes A Tax Cut 'Scoreboard'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:26

"Dynamic scoring" would favor tax cuts as a way to bring in more revenue for the government. But critics of the system are calling it "a gimmick."

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Consumer bureau may go after payday loans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:00

Rules for payday loans vary state by state, and to date, there are no federal regulations overseeing the loans other than for service members in the military.

But now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says the industry needs reform and is looking at implementing what would be the first federal regulations. 

Payday lenders say they serve the “under-banked,” but few other products subject borrowers to such high interest rates. Critics charge that the industry offers predatory loans and targets the poor. So why have the loans been largely unregulated so far, and if regulations are doable, what might a regulated payday loan market look like?

Click the media player above to hear more.

The CFPB goes after payday loans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:00

Rules for payday loans vary state by state, and to date, there are no federal regulations overseeing the loans other than for service members in the military.

But now the CFPB says the industry needs reform and is looking at implementing what would be the first federal regulations. 

Payday lenders say they serve the “under-banked,” but few other products subject borrowers to such high interest rates. Critics charge that the industry offers predatory loans and targets the poor. So why have the loans been largely unregulated so far, and if regulations are doable, what might a regulated payday loan market look like?

Click the media player above to hear more.

Restaurants shell out for high-priced scallops

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:00

This year, some fishermen are calling them white gold. What are they? Scallops, of course.

Freshly harvested scallops are plump, firm and should have still-twitching adductor muscles. That’s right. According to Rod Mitchell Browne, the owner of Browne Trading Company, a seafood business in Portland, Maine, “A fresh scallop always moves. The muscles kind of quiver when you first cut them.” He adds, “You can eat them raw very easily.”

Scallop season in Maine runs for only 70 days during the frigid winter months. Here, almost all of these valuable bivalves are harvested on boats that go out and come back on the same day. Their catch is called dayboat scallops. People around the country swear the most delicious scallops are from the state’s rugged coastline, even though Maine represents only around 1/100th of the total U.S. sea scallop industry.

Maine dayboat scallops being sorted and weighed at Browne Trading company in Portland, Maine. 

Caroline Losneck

 But this year, if you love Maine scallops, you’ll pay for your expensive tastes.

Mitchell says fewer than 1 percent of Maine scallops stay in the state. Most dayboat scallops he buys are shipped within 24 hours of being landed to some pretty fancy out-of-state places like like Le Bernardin and Daniel in New York City, or French Laundry in Napa Valley. But this year, Maine dayboat scallops won’t stay on menus for long.

That’s because five years ago, the state implemented new catch limits to protect the valuable fishery after stocks reached historic lows. This year, fishermen who operate Maine’s 400 day boats say they’ll probably exhaust quotas by late January, well before the season officially ends. And that means some fishermen are getting a big payday. Maine's Department of Marine Resources says in the past five years, prices paid to fishermen have increased each year, hitting an all-time high of $15 a pound this season.

Togue Brawn is the owner of Maine Dayboat Scallops in Portland, Maine. She buys freshly harvested dayboat scallops from fishermen Obie Spear, which she ships out as fast as she can to places around the country. Today, Spear brings in 83 pounds of scallops and he gets a check for $1,252 bucks for his “white gold.”

Brawn ships those scallops to appreciative customers like Chef Andrew Gerson, at Brooklyn Brewery in New York. He says Maine dayboat scallops are “almost like candy. I mean, there’s this real level of sweetness that I think offsets the salinity.” Chef Gerson willingly pays between $20 to $28 dollars a pound.

And his customers don’t seem to mind. For some things, the price is worth it.

The cost of saving factory jobs via lower wages

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 02:00

President Barack Obama is in Michigan today to highlight the resurgent automotive and manufacturing sectors. The auto industry employs over 730,000 workers in the U.S. (according to the Center for Automotive Research), back to levels not seen since before the recession. Hallelujah, right?   

"So, the returning jobs aren't the same quality as the jobs that we lost,” says Catherine Ruckelshaus, Director of the National Employment Law Project, which documented the decline in manufacturing wages. Auto workers, she says, are no exception. "Parts plants, which pay as low as $8 an hour are employing 75 percent of auto workers today."

Others say there actually is wage growth in the manufacturing sector, just not in unskilled labor. 

"CNC machinists, highly-skilled welders, I just keep coming across companies who say they just can't seem to find the people they need," says Gary Pisano of the Harvard Business School. 

Pisano says the U.S. can and should grow its manufacturing with technical and productivity gains, not low wages, and that is the best outcome for both workers and employers.

Consumer prices slip in the eurozone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-07 01:30
730,000 workers

President Barack Obama  is in Michigan on Wednesday to highlight the resurgent automotive and manufacturing sectors. The auto industry employs over 730,000 workers in the U.S. (according to the Center for Automotive Research), back to levels not seen since before the recession. But others aren't sure its time to celebrate, as the quality of jobs is lower than it once was.

0.2%

That's how much consumer prices in the eurozone fell last month in comparison to December of 2013, according to the European Union’s statistics agency. As the WSJ reports, it's putting pressure on the European Central Bank to bolster its stimulus program sooner than later.

6 hours

On average, unemployed women spend that much time each day caring for others or doing housework, according to the American Time Use Survey. Men averaged less than half that, and were far more likely to spend the majority of the day watching TV or relaxing. The Upshot has a breakdown in several beautiful charts.

$15 a pound

That's the (all-time high) cost of scallops coming out of Maine this season. It's largely due to the state's newly implemented catch limits to protect the valuable fishery after stocks reached historic lows. This year, fishermen who operate Maine’s 400 day boats say they’ll probably exhaust quotas by late January, well before the season officially ends.

440

That's how many extra calories Americans tend to buy during the holidays, the Washington Post reported. But after the holiday, that number doubles and the extra food becomes less healthy, flying in the face of most folks' go-to New Year's resolution.

4,369

Amazon's sales ranking for Moisés Naím's "The End of Power," before Mark Zuckerberg put it at the top of his reading list a few days ago. Now it's in the top-ten and being restocked after initially selling out, Quartz reported. Turns out Zuck might be the new Oprah.

U.S. Court Weighs Texas Law's Burden On Women Seeking Abortions

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-06 23:40

The law — which mandates stricter building codes for clinics that perform the procedure — has already forced the closure of dozens of clinics that provide abortion.

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