National News

Costa Rica tops Latin American countries on Social Progress Index

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 06:50

When it comes to wellbeing, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. That’s according to new data from the Social Progress Imperative, an organization which aims to understand how countries are performing on a variety of measures including health, education, technology, and opportunity.

Stephen Keppel, who covers economics at Univision, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain why Costa Rica performs so well. Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

Think You Know How To Cook Eggs? Chances Are You're Doing It Wrong

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 06:44

Food writer Michael Ruhlman has a new cookbook that's an homage to eggs. And where do Americans so often go wrong? Ruhlman says we usually overcook even the simplest dish of scrambled eggs.

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This Jet Lag App Does The Math So You'll Feel Better Faster

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 06:35

When it comes to resetting your biological clock, calculus can help. Mathematicians say they've found a faster way to adjust to time zone changes, and they've used it to drive a smartphone app.

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Pope Francis Asks Abuse Victims' Forgiveness

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 05:49

In what are being described as his strongest comments so far about the church's sex abuse crisis, the pope also condemned the evil deeds of some priests.

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Optimism, But No Breakthrough In Search For Malaysian Jet

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 05:00

Even as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was saying he's "very confident" that pings from the plane's black boxes have been detected, the man leading the search effort was urging caution.

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VIDEO: Woman Throws Shoe At Hillary Clinton, No Harm Done

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:49

The flying footwear missed the former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential contender. She was giving a speech in Las Vegas. "Is that part of Cirque du Soleil?" Clinton joked.

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When the coal layoffs trickle down

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:40

Coal communities in eastern Kentucky are feeling the effects of a relentless wave of mining layoffs the past few years. Competition from cheap natural gas and high production costs have hurt the mining business here. That, in turn, is hurting Main Street.

Take Whitesburg, Kentucky, population 2,000 give or take. At the Railroad Street Mercantile, owner Kae Fisher surprises visitors with an eclectic mix of merchandise. Homemade jellies, aromatherapy oils, snack chips, and jalapeno eggs fill the shelves. In the back of the store, she’s selling used LP’s and consignment quilts.

“These are from ladies across the county who try to earn a little extra money because a lot of them, their husbands have lost their jobs,” says Fisher.

Fisher and her husband David opened their “corner market” last year, as mining employment in eastern Kentucky plunged. Inauspicious timing, but Fisher believed the downtown needed at least one store. “We’re able to pay the bills,” says Fisher. “But have we got our money back that we’ve invested? Not yet.”

A midday stroll down Main Street, Whitesburg can be a lonely experience. The courthouse is the busiest place in town, but tables at the Courthouse Cafe across the street are fairly empty. On a weekday afternoon co-owner Laura Schuster worked the kitchen by herself. She can’t afford an assistant right now. “Once the layoffs started we immediately knew what would happen, that people would be afraid that they also would lose their jobs and they would cut back anyway they can,” says Schuster. “And one way to cut back is to not eat out. I’d say business is down 50 percent, if not more.”

Whitesburg and other coal towns in the region are also suffering from a steep drop in coal tax revenue. The money goes to counties and was originally intended for an economy beyond coal. In Whitesburg’s Letcher County, coal tax revenue is half what it was just a few years ago.

Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, says over the years coal severance taxes have been diverted for other uses. “Local governments in eastern Kentucky have gradually become dependent on the coal severance as just a general fund source for operations,” says Bailey “For them to pay for police, to do basic road repair. So they’ve had a really hard time because there’s the lack of a tax base outside that as well to generate revenue.”

Justin Maxson, president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, says the transition to a “low-coal” economy will be “slow, hard and expensive.” He points out the region was poor, even while coal boomed. “So there will be no easy fix.”

Why low inflation can be dangerous

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:36

Right now our inflation rate is around 1 percent. But some at the Fed say that's way too low.

The hope is to see inflation go up. But why on earth would we want to increase inflation?  

"A little bit is good, but not too much. It's like a lot of things in life -- good in moderation," says Jeremy Siegel, a professor of finance at Wharton. "Higher inflation is a bad thing, but mild inflation, statistically has been associated with very good economic times."

Siegel says during times of inflation, the dollar decreases in value. So the $100 you borrowed back in the day was worth more then, than your $100 payment today -- which means less financial burdens for consumers and more cash to spend.

And that's one reason the Fed wants to see inflation go up -- just a little bit. 

"It's not so high as to be hurting a lot of people, but it's at a level which would probably create a lot of jobs," says Gary Thayer, chief macro strategist at Wells Fargo Advisers. Thayer says the benefit of job creation would probably outweigh a slightly higher inflation rate.

Ukraine not on the agenda as IMF gathers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:20

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are set to open their annual spring meetings. It will be a busy weekend for finance ministers and economists who are visiting Washington from all over the world. Dozens of panels and speeches are on the agenda, but none are about Ukraine, a country the IMF has offered billions of dollars.

According to Ken Rogoff, former IMF chief economist, right now, “the geopolitics overrides what the finance ministers and the central bankers think.”

But at a gathering of policymakers from close to 200 countries, it is bound to come up.

“I think it’s going to be talked about behind closed doors,” says Barry Eichengreen, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley.  

Don't break my heart: This week's Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:09

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

This week's guest is Nitasha Tiku, , co-editor of Valleywag, Silicon Valley's tech gossip rag.

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Molotov Cocktails And Razor Wire: Inside An Occupied Building In Ukraine

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:06

Pro-Russian protesters in the eastern city of Donetsk seized a government building in the middle of town on Sunday. NPR's Ari Shapiro went inside the building and reports on what it was like.

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Tragedy In California: Truck Hits Bus Full Of Students

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 03:00

At least 10 people died and several dozen were injured when a FedEx truck slammed into a charter bus. The high school students and chaperones were going to visit a Northern California college.

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African Responses Night And Day From Rwanda, U.N. Envoy Says

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 00:38

As a scholar, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power wrote about the U.S. failure to intervene in Rwanda. Morning Edition co-host David Greene talks to her about current crises in Africa.

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One Man Becomes Another's Hands, Feet And Family

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 23:55

Collin Smith was in high school when an accident left him unable to use his arms and legs. So Ernest Greene, 50 years his senior, decided to help. And when Collin went to college, Ernest went, too.

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Paying Off Student Loans Puts A Dent In Wallets, And The Economy

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 23:53

Repaying college debts prevents many Americans from investing in homes or retirement. The impact can add up — for individuals and the economy as a whole, a researcher says.

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What's The Right Size For The U.S. Army?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 23:52

In the coming years, U.S. Army rolls could drop to their lowest level since World War II. Some think a leaner force can meet the challenges ahead; others say the U.S. will face unacceptable risks.

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The Ebola Survivors: Reborn But Not Always Embraced

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 23:51

They have recovered from the deadly virus that is ravaging Guinea. They feel blessed by their good fortune. But family and friends are often afraid to welcome them back with open arms.

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Nirvana Leads New Class In Rock Hall Of Fame

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 22:23

Nirvana, who set music and fashion trends with their grunge sound but whose career was cut short by leader Kurt Cobain's suicide 20 years ago, led inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Shoe Thrown At Hillary Clinton During Speech

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 21:57

A woman was taken into custody Thursday after throwing a shoe at Hillary Clinton. The incident happened moments after Clinton took the stage at a Scrap Recycling Industries meeting in Las Vegas.

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9 Killed When FedEx Truck Slams Into Students' Charter Bus

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 21:32

A FedEx tractor-trailer crossed a grassy freeway median in Northern California and slammed into a bus carrying high school students on a visit to a college. At least 9 were killed, authorities said.

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