National News

In Historic First, Native American Brothers Win Lacrosse Trophy

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 06:34

Despite the sport's Native American roots, a Native had never won the Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse's highest honor — until Thursday. Miles and Lyle Thompson became its first co-winners.

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Tsarnaev Friend Accused Of Impeding Boston Bombing Investigation

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 06:34

Khairullozhon Matanov lied and destroyed evidence about his contacts with the Tsarnaev brothers in the immediate aftermath of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, according to an indictment.

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A scam-free way to consolidate your debt

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 06:27

We’ve all seen the late night infomercials promising to lift us out of a mountain of crushing debt: It’ll only take a phone call. Just three minutes of your time. And you, too, could be debt free forever.

You don’t need to consult with your financial adviser to figure out that calling that 1-800 number probably isn’t going to solve all of your money woes.

But is there a safe and practical way to consolidate a big chunk of consumer debt?

Gerri Detweiler, the director of consumer education for Credit.com says absolutely. You just need to know where to look.

Debt consolidation vs. credit counseling

“A lot of those ads that you see are not actually companies that will consolidate your debt,” Detweiler says.

"They’re credit counseling agencies and they will work with your creditors to get you on one monthly payment, lower your interest rate and lower your payments but they aren’t actually paying off your debt like a true consolidation loan would do.”

Instead, a debt consolidation loan is one new loan that will pay off all your existing debt, put you on a fixed monthly payment with a set plan for when the debt will be gone. “With a consolidation loan you know, in three, four or five years this loan will be paid off.”

So where do you get one?

Oh, how things have changed. Traditionally if you wanted a consolidation loan you’d have to apply through your bank or credit union or even tap into your home equity. 

"But that industry has changed dramatically in the past few years thanks to the P2P, or peer-to-peer lenders, who take money from investors like you and me and lend it to other people who need to consolidate their debt.”

You can save money, Detweiler says, by using a P2P lender because the interest rates typically are much lower.

How to spot a scam

We’re used to doing everything online these days but when it comes to giving out personal financial information here’s one area where we need to be extra careful.

“There are sites out there that look very professional and they typically promise money with very little in terms of credit standards,” Detweiler says.

 “What they’re doing is they’re gathering your personal information and turning around and selling it to scammers. Even if you don’t get a loan from them there’s a good chance that in a year or two you’re going to start hearing from debt collectors who are telling you that they’re going to have you arrested or sue you in court for paying this debt, whether or not you took out the debt.”

If you’re considering consolidation for student loans you need to be even more cautious. Head directly to the Department of Education for information and bypass any other companies who claim they can consolidate your student loans.

“The big risk with consolidating student loans is you may lose some of the protections you have right now with federal student loans including graduated repayment, deferment and forbearance,” she says.

“If you consolidate a federal student loan with a private student loan you lose those protections.”

VA Chief Eric Shinseki Resigns Post, Obama Announces

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 06:15

Shinseki has resigned his post, President Obama says, hours after the embattled head of Veterans Affairs said he would work to fix "systemic" problems in the VA's health care network.

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PODCAST: A $2 billion bank shot for the Clippers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 06:14

Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has reportedly won the bidding yesterday for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise, with a $2 billion offer. Getting one of the world's richest people to replace Donald Sterling is a big win for the NBA.

On Monday, the EPA will set greenhouse-gas reduction goals for every state. And some states may be playing catch up.

The best advice for grads? Screw up.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 05:15

It’s commencement season, AKA, the month of unsolicited advice.

Many a hungover student will struggle to stay awake in a rented gown, largely tuning out the platitudes doled out from a dais.

BINGO will proceed: believe in yourself, fail, thank your parents, follow your passion. And out into the world will go another crop of young people; smart, terrified, debt-ridden and clueless.

I’ve been mulling this over since Business Insider published this list of advice their reporters wish they’d gotten.

Thinking back on my own college graduation sixteen years ago, I can still feel my own fear. “Who am I? What am I supposed to be? Who is the devil who invented Jagermeister?” Believe it or not, I remember my commencement speaker, the brilliant cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

He walked to the center of the stage and spoke only briefly, with a simple message: find your own voice.

And then he played. I believe it was Bach, though that may be a trick of memory. But it was gorgeous.

What I didn’t know is that the next few years would be hard. I didn’t have a job lined up. I’d try acting, working in a bookstore, leading outdoors trips for kids, and a presidential campaign. It took me until I was about twenty-four until I thought maybe journalism was right for me. And even then, it was a maybe.  I didn’t know for sure until I was twenty-eight, carting around a load of grad school debt. And then, not a single newspaper would hire me. Not one.

But here is what I learned: uncertainty is okay, and the best stuff happens when you are picking yourself up after a fall. A job that helps you pay the rent and pay your loans is a good job. People will help you if you ask them. You will learn through osmosis. That is what my late stepfather used to call “the college of life.”

And yes (cliché alert!), your biggest successes will come from failure.

The actor Charlie Day gave a commencement speech at his alma mater, Merrimack College, and I loved it. 

I made my way to Marketplace after a truly terrible year. I’d been very sick with endometriosis, gone on medical leave and lost my job. I didn’t know if I’d ever work again.

And then an email from Kai Ryssdal popped into my inbox.

This is not to say that everything will work out. It often won’t. But in my imaginary graduation speech, I’d say this: give yourself permission to screw up, because it’s going to happen anyway.

And write thank-you notes. Your mother was right about that. 

National Spelling Bee: Rare Co-Champions, And A Star Online

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 04:34

For the first time in 52 years, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowns two winners, after the final two competitors exhausted the word list. Another speller won fans with his high energy.

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Shelly Sterling: LA Clippers Will Be Sold To Steve Ballmer For $2 Billion

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 03:26

Before a sale to the former Microsoft Corp. chief is official, it would require approval from the NBA's Board of Governors and the backing of Donald Sterling, the team's majority owner.

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How #YesAllWomen reignited the conversation about gender equality

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 03:00

What does the Isla Vista shooting in California have to do with gender equality you might ask?

Before going into full effect with his plans last Friday, the shooter left behind a 141-page statement where he described his plans to kill people and declare a war on women. According to the shooter's manifesto, romantic rejections by women sparked the 22-year old's rampage.

Dr. Wendy Patrick, business ethics lecturer at San Diego State University, joins Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith to discuss #YesAllWomen, the social media conversation that grew on Twitter. 

For NBA, courting Steve Ballmer could be a strategic move

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 02:14

The NBA hopes it's just made a game saving shot.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer plans to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion dollars. The deal -- which must still be approved by the NBA -- would come after the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he would force current owner Donald Sterling to sell after he made several racist and vulgar remarks in a recorded call.

There's a photo making the rounds of Steve Ballmer at a playoff game earlier this month, with Commissioner Adam Silver in his ear. Wharton Business School Professor Kenneth Shropshire says it's easy to imagine Silver making his pitch to Ballmer right then.

"If you think about the kinds of people you would speak to, Ballmer would certainly be on your list to court," he says.

That's because Ballmer's worth $20 billion dollars, making him one of the richest people on the planet.

Only one of the richest people on the planet can afford to pay a record $2 billion dollars for an NBA team, a deal the league hopes is sweet enough to discourage Sterling from tying up the sale in court.

Going forward, Emory University's Mike Lewis says the NBA would be psyched to have a deep-pocketed guy own the Clippers.

"You know they are sort of the New York Mets or the Chicago White Sox. They are the second team in that city. I think it's really attractive to the league to essentially have two really strong franchises in a major city like LA," he says.

Disposing of Sterling and the Clippers going deep into the playoffs -- for NBA owners that would be fantastic.

Bringing Bono on board might not be enough for Fender's slump

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 02:01

Bono and The Edge – the singer and guitarist for U2 – will join the board of directors at the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.

Fender guitars are revered by musicians.

Brian Majeski, an editor at The Music Trades magazine, says Fender does “not need these guys to burnish their credibility with musicians or the music-buying public.”

But, across the industry, guitar sales are down 10 – 15 percent from their peak in 2008.

Perhaps the issue is not supply, but too little demand.

“Maybe this slump in guitar sales is a lot of kids aren’t learning to play the guitar because it’s hard,” says Jimmy Griffin, who manages Killer Vintage, a guitar shop in St. Louis.

Griffin says he never would have bothered learning the guitar if he knew that he could be a rock star with just two turn-tables and a microphone or a computer.

EPA's carbon rules may give some states a head start

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 02:00

On Monday, when the White House rolls out President Barack Obama’s biggest climate change initiative—proposed rules to limit the carbon dioxide created by existing power plants — there will be greenhouse-gas reduction goals set for every state.  And in terms of carbon emissions, states are, well, all over the map.

That's one way to count. Here's another: 

 The second one gives a clue as to which states are buring the most carbon-intensive fuel -- coal.

"You’ve got some states such as North Dakota or Wyoming where they’re nearly 100 percent coal, so they have very high emissions intensities," says John Larsen, an analyst at the Rhodium Group, an energy consulting firm.   

Meanwhile, Washington gets much of its power from zero-emissions hydro-electric dams.

Some of the variation depends on, yes,  the lay of the land. "It’s not just natural resources, in terms of rivers or sun or wind," says Ethan Zindler with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "It’s also, 'Do you have an ample supply of fossil fuel nearby?' So, it's not shocking that Kentucky is heavily-reliant on coal for power-generation, since there is a good deal of coal locally available." 

And some places -- like California and some New England states -- already have programs going to carbon emissions.

That could mean a head start when EPA rules go into effect. "Some people will come to the table and say, 'Well, those states are going to be advantaged here,'" says Sara Hayes with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

However: Which states actually get a head start will depend on how the EPA writes its rules.

"There’s 25 states that already have energy efficiency savings plans in place," says Hayes. "People will come to the table and say, 'Those 25 states, they’re ahead of the game.' And others will say, 'Well a state that hasn’t done anything yet...'"  Will the abundance of low-hanging fruit be an advantage?  Until Monday's announcement, nobody knows. 

 

Brazil's drought creates a surge in global coffee prices

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 01:00

If you happen to be drinking your morning coffee right now you might want to take a few extra moments to savor it...

A severe drought in Brazil has hit its coffee-growing region hard in recent months, helping to push prices up and ruining crops in the world's biggest coffee producing country. 

So what does it mean for farmers in Brazil -- and for the price of your cappuccino?

The BBC's Katie Watson joins Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith to discuss. 

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