National News

2013: The Year In Political Screw-Ups

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 09:30

If anything defined 2013, it was the political misstep. Between the broken promises, personal scandals and federal government shutdown, it was a year that left voters frustrated and, in some cases, appalled.

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Cruz Green Eggs And Ham: Political Hit Or Miss?

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 09:27

Texas Senator Ted Cruz was a political hit or miss, depending on whom you ask. Host Michel Martin and guests talk about Cruz and other politicians of note for this year's 'Tell Me Awards.'

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As 2013 Winds To An End, So Do The Tweets Of 1963

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 08:45

Since June, we've been "live-tweeting" moments from 1963 as if they were happening today. That includes "replays" of the March on Washington, the Birmingham church bombing and President Kennedy's assassination.

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How NAFTA Helped The Mexican Billionaires' Club

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 08:34

When the North American Free Trade Agreement was being negotiated, supporters promised it would increase the income of Mexicans. And the middle class did grow over the past two decades. But it's clear that the country's ultrarich are its big winners.

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How Deflating: Huge Rubber Duck Goes Flat In Taiwan

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 08:20

The giant inflatable is supposed to project peace and harmony. But Tuesday, it suddenly burst. This isn't the first time that one of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's floating works of art has gone pffff.

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Audi and Google expected to announce Android operating system for cars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2013-12-31 08:12

There was news this month that car maker Audi and Google may be planning to partner on developing an Android operating system for cars. The two companies have collaborated before, but this new partnership -- which could be announced at next week's consumer electronics show in Las Vegas -- might be a very big deal. Dave Sullivan, analyst at AutoPacific, joined us to help explain why.

Click play on the audio player above to hear more.

PODCAST: How safe are bonds?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2013-12-31 08:00

The Dow is up 28 points, two tenths percent to 16-thouand 532.  That's up 29 percent from the close of business last New Year's Eve. The S&P 500 is up a tenth percent, 39 percent for the year with a few hours to go. 

2014 is upon us. Auld Lang Syne makes us think about getting older, and for many, older means an investment portfolio that should be a little more prudent and less risky. So, the advice is often get more bonds into that portfolio and move a bit away from the volatile stock market. But is the economic climate safe enough even for bonds?

And, as we hear more about the commercial development of drones, a new state law seeks to control how law enforcement can use them. January 1, the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act goes into effect in Illinois. This limits how police can use drone surveillance (they'll need a warrant). Also, business consulting is about selling outside expertise and can be very lucrative. But did you know companies like Disney and MTV are also in the consulting game?

 

Will the latest oil-train fire make people rethink anything?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2013-12-31 07:48

A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in North Dakota on Monday.

“This is just one in a string of legitimate concerns about the movement of crude oil by rail,” says Sandy Fielden, an energy analyst at RBN Energy.

In July, a train carrying oil exploded in Canada, killing 47 people. Last month, in Alabama, an oil-carrying train caught fire when it derailed.

Depending on the investigation, says Fielden, there may be pressure to make some regulatory changes. But don’t expect anything too dramatic: North Dakota is the second largest oil producing state. By some estimates, trains will move 90 percent of North Dakota’s crude next year.

“There’s no question, this oil is going to get to the market,” says Robert Bryce from the conservative Manhattan Institute. He supports the Keystone Pipeline project — as an alternative to moving oil by train. But, he says, it’s going to get to market one way or another.

It’s too early to know exactly what happened in North Dakota. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. There are questions about the tracks, the trains, the tankers that were moving the oil. 

Holly Arthur, with the Association of American Railroads, says rail is safe. Rail has been used to move crude oil since the early days of the industry. Business has picked up dramatically since 2009 and the rise of fracking.

“Today 99.997 percent of all hazmat moved by rail reaches its destination without a release caused by an accident,” says Arthur.

99.997 percent is a reassuring number. But people who live along these lines know there are also more trains hauling oil.

From Pandas To Health Care: The 13 Numbers Of 2013

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 07:40

NPR has been taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of 2013. These 13 reflect the highs and lows of the year, from deadly wildfires and the war in Syria, to football stadiums and same-sex marriage.

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Rival South Sudan Factions Agree To Talks, Cease-Fire

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 07:37

The conflict pits the country's president against his former vice president, who is accused of plotting a coup. But the violence in the oil-rich nation also has tribal and ethnic dimensions that threaten the world's newest country.

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Has Tim Tebow Found His Right Place At ESPN?

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 07:25

The quarterback won fans across the nation a few years back, but hasn't been able to build a solid NFL career. He'll be a college football analyst on TV. Does that sound like the right move for him?

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Happy New Year! The Celebrations Are Underway

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 06:00

The new year has arrived in Australia, New Zealand and other places in the Pacific. As 2014 begins around the world, we'll watch for highlights of the celebrations. Among the things to watch for: Dubai's bid to set a new world record for biggest fireworks display.

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Investors wary despite stock market gains

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2013-12-31 05:15

Institutional investors have been buying stocks by the bushel over the course of 2013.  The S&P 500 is on track to end the year with an increase of more than 30 percent and the Nasdaq up nearly 40 percent.  But not all investors have bought into the logic of easy money provided by the Federal Reserve trickling into corporate profits and from there boosting share prices.

Scott Colyer, CEO and Chief Investment Officer at Advisors Asset Management, says:

I don't blame them. In fact, I believe that is one of the major reasons that you don't have the individual investor back in this game. And many of them just said, "never again."

Heather Brilliant, head of equity and credit research at Morningstar said that while the bond market might seem like a safe alternative for cautious investors, now is probably not the right time:

We really see a very difficult environment. We think rates are going to go up more, which means that people holding bonds are going to be stuck holding a potentially very dangerous portfolio.

Stephen Biggar, global director of equity research at S&P Capital IQ, says that while the stock market's gains look to continue, concerns over "corrections," -- a reversal of some of those gains -- do have some merit:

The market rarely goes in a single direction for a long as it has. We think we'll continue the momentum early in the year and then have a bit of a pull-back and finish five percent higher.

'Twerk' And 'Selfie' Top Latest List Of Words That Need To Go

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 05:15

What words are you sick of hearing? The wags at Lake Superior State University are out with their annual nominees. Others include "hashtag" and "twittersphere."

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Animal Loses Head But Remembers Everything

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 04:42

They look like fettuccine come to life — little flatworms that glide along riverbeds and perform miracles. Chop off their tails, they grow them back. Split them in half, they grow whole again. But chop off their heads, and not only do they grow new heads, but those new heads contain old memories! Whoa!

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Europe's stock market growing, but economy waiting to improve

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2013-12-31 04:36

On this last day of trading for 2013, a reminder that the stock market is by no means a measure of well-being. Case in point, Europe. Stock markets across the continent are set to climb about 20 percent for 2013. But as the BBC's Andrew Walker explains, that's not necessarily due to an overall economic improvement in the Eurozone.

Singing, Stomping, Stranded Explorers Prep Antarctic Helipad

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 04:34

Icebreakers haven't been able to reach the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which is trapped in ice. As soon as the weather clears, it's hoped that a helicopter will be able to reach the scene and then carry passengers to other ships nearby.

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China in 2013: A last resort for justice

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2013-12-31 04:21

It was a year of change in China -- a new president, new policy roadmaps for the future of the country. But as Marketplace's China Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz reflected on 2013, one detail that's come up again and again is how many regular Chinese people have turned to him and other foreign journalists as their last resort for justice.

Click play on the audio player above to hear more.

How retailers will be watching you in 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2013-12-31 03:34

This week we're talking to guests about big tech trends in the coming year. With a growing number of organizations tracking people as they do their shopping, the question comes up of whether consumers have reached a tipping point when it comes to feelings about data privacy. 

Chester Wisniewski at the cyber security firm Sophos says we may see companies using sensors to track smartphones in the new year.

"We've seen a real move toward retailers and other etablishments starting to take advantage of these personal beacons that we all carry in our pockets," says Wisniewski, "and kind of using that data to get metrics on how people shop."

But people aren't as trusting that the companies gathering the data will be able to protect their privacy.

"One of the things that we may see really change about people's attitudes toward technology in 2014 is maybe a little bit more suspicion and lack of trust," says Wisniewski, "it has gotten to the point that people are a little bit more suspicious about this data collection that's going on, not just with the NSA, but with every establishment, and whether those establishments truly can keep that data safe and secure."

You may be able to avoid the new smartphone tracking sensors by simply switching off your phone, but that wont prevent stores from watching you alltogether; the cameras are still watching.

"You'd probably be astounded by the number of cameras in every single establishment you go into," Wisniewski says.

And if you're waiting for someone to release a product or app that keeps your data private, don't hold your breath. Wisniewski says short of secluding yourself in a cabin in the mountains, your information is going to get out there.

"Somehow as a society we're going to have to come to terms with this change if we're going to continure to use this technology," he says.

Michael Schumacher Showing 'Surprising' Improvement

NPR News - Tue, 2013-12-31 03:32

The retired Formula One race car driver suffered a severe head injury Sunday while skiing in France. Doctors say Schumacher suffered bruising throughout his brain. They can't yet predict whether he will recover, but they're more optimistic. He's had a second surgery.

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