National News

Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Challenging Drone Strikes That Killed Americans

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 14:41

Nasser Al-Awlaki sued U.S. officials over the killing of three Americans including his son in Yemen. The judge said the suit raises fundamental constitutional questions but there's no easy answer.

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Weekly Wrap: The slow, grinding recovery

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 14:23
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 17:19 Keystone/Getty Images

The New York Stock Exchange on Broad Street and Wall Street in New York.

With the March unemployment numbers out, there are plenty of questions about pay and how many people are employed right now. That's what we're tackling this week on the Weekly Wrap.

Joining us are Felix Salmon from Reuters and Catherine Rampell, columnist at the Washington Post.

Click play on the audio player above to hear more.

Marketplace for Friday April 4, 2014Interview by David GuraPodcast Title: Weekly Wrap: Story Type: InterviewSyndication: PMPApp Respond: No

Buying bonds instead of Final Four tickets

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 14:21
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 16:36 Elsa/Getty Images

The Connecticut Huskies band performs during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2014.

Tomorrow, the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Kentucky Wildcats, and the Florida Gators play the UConn Huskies. UConn's women's team is also in the running for a national championship.   So it's a big week for the University in Storrs, Connecticut -- because these games coincide with a major bond offering. The city is selling $220 million worth of municipal bonds to fund campus construction.   According to Bloomberg, bond buyers also hoped this might lead to some good seats at this weekend's games.   Sorry, the school says, it's not going to happen. Marketplace for Friday April 4, 2014by David GuraPodcast Title: Buying bonds instead of Final Four ticketsStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Weekly Wrap: The slow, grinding recovery

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 14:19

With the March unemployment numbers out, there are plenty of questions about pay and how many people are employed right now. That's what we're tackling this week on the Weekly Wrap.

Joining us are Felix Salmon from Reuters and Catherine Rampell, columnist at the Washington Post.

Click play on the audio player above to hear more.

Raising the minimum wage: Good idea or bad idea?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:57

On an earlier show, we heard from guests who supported raising the federal minimum wage.

It now stands at $7.25. There's a proposal in Congress to raise it to $10.10.

Gene Barr, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, which represents businesses in that state, doesn't think that's a great idea.

"What we believe is ... that the minimum wage increase proposed is not only highly inefficent, but is also even harmful to those people who most need these entry-level jobs," Barr says. "If you think about it, a much better way trying to help these people, would be for example increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit at the federal side, because in that way we're all participating a little bit, and trying to make things better for the people who truly need it."

According to Barr, raising the minimum wage at the federal level wouldn't help the people who need a raise in wages the most. 

"Most people who work minimum wage jobs are part-time, about 80% do not have kids," he says. "More than half of them are in households where the household income is above $50,000, which is a crucial number because that's the average take-home [pay] for a small-business person."

So, if raising the minimum wage isn't the best plan for building wealth in low-income communities and unexperienced workers, what would be the best method? Barr says the answer lies in education.

"Looking at how we get these people the job skills, the training that they need, in order to advance themselves in. Because in reality, the people who are most hurt by minimum wage are the people trying to get their foot in the door," Barr says. "We need to do a better job, as a society, of getting these people in the talents, the skills, the abilities so they can get that foot in the door. That's how we're going to move things forward."

Why the 'Internet of Things' is still fragile

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:56

In the world of the Internet of Things, every device from your refrigerator to your thermostat seems smart. The idea is, we humans don’t have to set temperatures or see if we’ve run out of milk because the devices will do it for us.

It’s all supposed to be seamless. Until it’s not.

And that brings us to Nest, which is halting sales of its Nest Protect fire alarm and smoke detector. The company said the fire alarm's “wave function,” which allows you to turn off false alarms, can, under certain circumstances, delay an alarm going off in a real fire. 

It appears that the "Internet of Things" isn’t making devices as smart or as seamless as promised. The reason is simple: It's still the early days for the Internet of Things, said Jeremey Jaech, the CEO of SNUPI technologies. He said right now, the business landscape is like the wild west.

"And it’s not at all clear who’s going to win," Jaech said. 

Jaech said there are lots of different start-ups producing almost as many varieties of software and hardware to power the Internet of Things. But these products don’t always speak the same language. And that often means you have to start dealing with a human being in customer support.

"What I would expect to happen, because it’s happened in virtually every other industry, is that you start to see consolidation occur, and standardization will come," Jaech said. 

When winners emerge, everyone in the industry starts speaking the same languages. The technology becomes more seamless, and so the help line becomes less necessary -- maybe.

"There’s a gap between the promise of the technology and the reality of the messiness of our lives," said Jonathan Gaw, an an analyst at IDC. He points to the Nest thermometer, which he owns.

"The promise of the Nest is that it recognizes movements in the household so it can adjust the temperature accordingly," Gaw said. 

But Gaw’s thermostat is hidden behind his big screen TV and so it can't monitor movements. Tony Costa is an analyst at Forrester and he said companies need to start adjusting expectations.

"Consumer electronic companies are used developing devices if something goes wrong with them, it’ll ruin your day," Costa said. "You know if your iphone crashes, it’s kind of a bummer."

But if your fire alarm crashes, that could be fatal. Costa said, these companies are known for pushing the envelope. But when it comes to wiring our lives, they might want something less glitzy but more dependable ... or maybe just a human who can help them out.

What would full employment feel like?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:51

New jobs numbers show the national unemployment rate is holding steady at 6.7 percent.

The hope is that the number will continue to fall. Borrowing a line from Ludacris, the question for the unemployment rate is: “How low can you go?”

The unemployment rate can’t get to zero. It’s impossible. There will always be people entering the workforce, or between jobs. But just how low the unemployment rate can go is really tough to answer.

“To me, a fair definition of full employment in the United States today would be unemployment under 4 percent,” said Robert Pollin, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Economists disagree about the unemployment rate that will signal the U.S. has achieved to full employment. Some say it’s 5.5 percent, others say it could get down to 2 percent.

There’s more agreement on what a world of full employment feels like. “People who want a job are ready and willing to work. They will find a job,” said L. Randall Wray, an economics professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

It would be an economy where you can feel good about the chances of getting that next job. Your children will be able to get work when they leave school. You’ll be able to plan for the future a little better—maybe buy a house.

“You don’t have to take the worst jobs that come along, just out of fear that you can’t find something better,” Wray said.

In an economy of full-employment, you, the worker, have more control. There are fewer people out there looking to replace you. “When you are at full employment,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “you are in a situation where employers actually need to bid wages up to get and to keep the workers they need, even for low wage workers.”

At full employment, Bernstein said, we’d likely all get paid more. At the bottom, the middle, and the top of the pay scale.

Common Core Turns Business Leaders Against Oklahoma GOP

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:49

Officials here adopted the education standards early and could make Oklahoma the second state to repeal them. The battle pits allies against each other: Conservative Republicans and business leaders.

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Buying bonds instead of Final Four tickets

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:36

Tomorrow, the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Kentucky Wildcats, and the Florida Gators play the UConn Huskies. UConn's women's team is also in the running for a national championship.   So it's a big week for the University in Storrs, Connecticut -- because these games coincide with a major bond offering. The city is selling $220 million worth of municipal bonds to fund campus construction.   According to Bloomberg, bond buyers also hoped this might lead to some good seats at this weekend's games.   Sorry, the school says, it's not going to happen.

Pin the week on safety pins

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:35

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's an extended look at what's coming up the week of April 7 (Plus Sunday night. So sue us.):

  • Let's start with dragons. "Game of Thrones" season four finally premiers on Sunday night. Don't lose your head.
  • Actor Russell Crowe turns 50 on Monday. Happy birthday. He's currently starring in "Noah."
  • April 7 is International Beaver Day. To honor those little dam building environmental helpers.
  • On Tuesday the Labor Department releases its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey and the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on "Protecting Taxpayers from Incompetent and Unethical Return Preparers."
  • Mid-week, the House Committee on Small Business discusses "The Biggest Tax Problems for Small Businesses." Right. It is tax season. Let's move on.
  • Finally something that helps us get dressed. A brilliant aide for well-appointed fashionistas was patented on April 10, 1849. We can thank inventor Walter Hunt for the safety pin.
  • On Friday the Labor Department issues its Producer Price Index for March, and the International Energy Agency releases its monthly oil market report on supply and demand around the globe.
  • But that's no fun. Let's end the week with International Louie Louie Day because, well, because people love to play that party song.

You Could Be A 'New Republican' If You Agree With This Ad

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:34

A new ad featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is part of an effort to rebrand the Republican Party — and end its reputation as "the party of no."

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McDonald's Shuts Its Restaurants In Crimea

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:26

The fast food chain cited the "evolving situation" for a decision to close its restaurants in Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta.

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Never mind Letterman. What about his band?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 13:21

The multi-million dollar question in the media world is: Who will get David Letterman’s time slot when the host steps down in 2015? An opening for a late night host also creates an opening for a band. Band leaders of successful shows are well-paid, and the increased exposure they get can open doors.

“It can enhance your chances of being successful at whatever it is that you want to do, simply because a lot of people know who you are,” says Jay Leno’s longtime band leader, Kevin Eubanks.

And for the musicians behind the band leaders, a regular spot in a late night band can be a nice change of pace from a hectic tour schedule.

Mark Garrison: When Letterman announced his retirement on the show, the on-air reaction was quick.

Band leader Paul Shaffer made a fortune playing sidekick and enduring cracks about his Canadian heritage. The exposure he got could open doors for him after the show ends.

Kevin Eubanks: It can enhance your chances of being successful at whatever it is that you want to do, simply because a lot of people know who you are now.

Kevin Eubanks was Jay Leno’s longtime band leader. Getting a slot like that isn’t easy. They just don’t come up that often.

Eubanks: Jay and I, for instance, we just got along. So sometimes it can just be something that simple. That, oh, these two people get along and that would make for good TV.

Music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz points out that it’s about more than band leaders. Behind them are working musicians trying to make a good living in a tricky industry. A job on a talk show can be a welcome break.

Bob Lefsetz: If you can get a gig on a late night show, get paid every night, sleep in your own bed, it’s very appealing.

And when you tour, you can pay bigger venues. But late night opportunities are shrinking, says Bill Carter, author of several books on late night TV.

Bill Carter: Frankly, one of the things I think you might see is a condensed band, because they have tighter budgets than they used to and the bands are expensive.

But don’t look for them to disappear. They play a vital role you don’t see on TV. Eubanks says bands are crucial for keeping the studio audience hyped up.

Eubanks: The audience has all this energy because we gave it to them during the commercials that they wanna release it, because they’re there to have a party.

And there’s now a chance for another band leader to join it. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Expecting A Spring Thaw, Shops And Restaurants Warm To Hiring

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 12:49

Employment and wages are increasing, along with hopes for more consumer spending, analysts say.

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In Wake Of Fort Hood Shooting, Attention Turns To Base Security

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 12:45

While it appears the 2009 attack at Fort Hood was different in many ways from what occurred Wednesday, the latest attack is drawing attention again to security measures there.

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Authorities: Fort Hood's Shooter's Mental Health Not 'Precipitating Factor'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 12:32

Authorities said an argument may have led to the shooting rampage. The family of Spc. Iván López issued a statement saying they were troubled and surprised by his alleged actions.

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Waters Will Flood Part Of Colorado River, For Just A Few Weeks

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-04 12:30

Thanks to an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, water is flowing to 35 million people in both countries along the Colorado River Delta. At least for now.

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About half of America has zero net wealth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 12:20
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 05:17 TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York.

Wealth is the value of everything you own: stocks, bonds, your home, your car -- minus your debts. And while income inequality has taken center stage in debates about the growing gap between rich and poor, what's happening with wealth paints an even more staggering picture.

The wealth share of the 0.01 percent, or the top 16,000 families in America, has skyrocketed. That tiny group now owns 12 percent of the wealth in America.

The wealth of the larger one percent  -- and even the .5 percent -- isn't rising.

These days, if you want to be among the biggest winners, says UC Berkeley researcher Gabriel Zucman, who co-wrote a new report on wealth, it helps to be in the 0.1 percent or better.

Around 50 percent of the US population, Zucman said, has zero net wealth. Their debts, effectively, equal their assets. 

Marketplace Morning Report for Monday, April 21, 2014by Noel KingPodcast Title About half of America has zero net wealthStory Type News StorySyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

Yes, the Hard Rock Cafe still exists

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 12:17
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 15:13 Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival

Pat LaFrieda Meats hosted by Rachael Ray during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival at Beachside at The Ritz Carlton on February 21, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. 

There are fewer than ten Planet Hollywood locations still open -- but for the Hard Rock Cafe, life after the recession has been one marked by growth.

And that has to do with their post-recession strategy, says Venessa Wong, a reporter at Bloomberg Businessweek.  The Seminole Tribe of Florida bought the struggling themed restaurant chain in 2007. Since then, the company has focused on building more restaurants overseas and expanding into a line of hotels and casinos.

In the U.S., they’ve also tried to update the brand by changing restaurant décor and playing new music. Wong thinks the changes and growth strategy could very well prove successful.

"As long as they offer tourists a good enough experience while they’re there, they’re probably likely to visit another Hard Rock at another location the next time they’re traveling to a place where it’s hard to find a good hamburger,” Wong said.

Marketplace for Friday April 4, 2014Interview by David GuraPodcast Title: Yes, the Hard Rock Cafe still existsStory Type: InterviewSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

When being cheap isn't worth it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-04 12:16

TLC's reality show ,"Extreme Cheapskates," showcases people who go to, well, extremes to save money. There's the woman who refuses to spend money doing laundry, so she uses a free sample of detergent and  her time in the shower to give her clothes a cleaning of sorts. And then, there's the couple who, as self-described cheapskates, decided to bestow a crib found in a dumpster unto their unborn daughter. 

There is quite a difference between cheap and frugal, according to Daryl Paranada, a reporter for MyBankTracker.com, the differences are pretty clear. 

"Frugality means you're conscious about how you use and spend your hard-earned money," Paranada says. "Being cheap means you want to spend the least amount of money possible, no matter what. And that's not always the best approach to spending money. There are times when being cheap just isn't smart."

Many people try to save money when making home improvements by doing it themselves,  but Paranada says that when undertaking home improvement projects, going the cheap route is not the way to go. 

"Before you take out the hammers and you start a DIY project for your house, you should ask yourself three questions," he says. "First, do I know what I'm doing? Could I hurt myself or my house? And finally, is it worth my time?" 

Paranada also says that there are some things that are worth the money you pay for them. 

"If you think about it, you spend half your time in a mattress and half your time in shoes. A good mattress might cost you about $1000, but it's worth it because in the end it's all about value. What kind of things do you value? What kinds of things might improve your quality of life ," he says. 

For more tips on how to save money without being a miser, see Daryl Paranada's article, "13 Instances When Being Cheap Doesn't Pay Off."

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