National News

For Albuquerque PD, A Searing Rebuke From Justice Department

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:56

The Albuquerque Police Department has engaged in excessive force and unreasonable deadly force, according to a civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice.

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Sebelius resigns after Obamacare woes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:43

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, says the government is making "tremendous progress" toward fixing what she called a broken health system. 
Sebelius commented Friday after President Barack Obama announced her resignation and says he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her.

Sebelius's departure comes as the Obama administration seeks to move past the woes of the initial rollout of Obamacare, which included a website launch marred by glitches, an unexpected cancellation of some Americans' individual health insurance policies and seemingly endless delays of key deadlines and requirements.

Sebelius faced a high-profile grilling in front of a Congressional panel over the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, and mentions of her all but disappeared from the President's public comments and addresses regarding the ACA. Most notably, Sebelius did not even appear at President Obama's triumphant announcement of 7 million Obamacare enrollees in the White House Rose Garden last week.

According to The New York Times, Sebelius approached the president last month about the decision. Sebelius was previously the governor of Kansas, until she was nominated for the cabinet position in 2009.

Sebelius will resign after Obamacare woes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:43

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, will resign after serving five years in the position and presiding over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama accepted Sebelius's resignation earlier in the week, and on Friday will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, according to White House officials.

Sebelius's departure comes as the Obama administration seeks to move past the woes of the initial rollout of Obamacare, which included a website launch marred by glitches, an unexpected cancellation of some Americans' individual health insurance policies and seemingly endless delays of key deadlines and requirements.

Sebelius faced a high-profile grilling in front of a Congressional panel over the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, and mentions of her all but disappeared from the President's public comments and addresses regarding the ACA. Most notably, Sebelius did not even appear at President Obama's triumphant announcement of 7 million Obamacare enrollees in the White House Rose Garden last week.

According to The New York Times, Sebelius approached the president last month about the decision. Sebelius was previously the governor of Kansas, until she was nominated for the cabinet position in 2009.

God Save The Queen — And Donetsk, Too?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:40

The eastern Ukrainian city is caught in a tug of war between Kiev and Moscow. A tongue-in-cheek campaign is presenting a third option: annexation by Britain. After all, a Welshman founded it in 1884

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The GPS trade-off: Get lost less often, but lose privacy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:34

In the age of Google Maps, Siri, and GPS, it is hard to get lost.

"You can if you really, really work at it,” says Hiawatha Bray, technology reporter at the Boston Globe and author of “You are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves.”

“The whole idea of being able to navigate through the world with a higher degree of reliability is one of the most challenging technical problems the human race has ever faced, and it’s taken us centuries to beat it.”

But this technological achievement has come at a price, says Bray: Privacy.

Bray says many technologies weren’t designed to track people, but some companies -- and governments -- are using it to do just that. Cell phones and license plate scanners have new, unforseen second purposes. Many cities regularly scan the license plates of vehicles driving their streets.

"There’s no limit right now, under law, [on] how long you can keep those records," Bray says. “I don’t want to get lost, I just don’t want others to constantly track my location.”

Utah Gay Marriage Gets Hearing In Appeals Court

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:08

Same-sex marriage went before an appeals court in Utah on Thursday. It's the first federal appellate court to hear a marriage case after the 2013 marriage equality decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court. Colorado Public Radio's Megan Verlee was in the courtroom for the hearing.

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Egyptian Journalist Trial Is Long On Jail Time — But Short On Proof

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:08

Audie Cornish talks to NPR's Leila Fadel in Cairo about the ongoing trial of Al-Jazeera journalists. The journalists have now been in jail for more than 100 days.

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Colbert Plans To Take Up The Late Night Mic For CBS

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:08

CBS announced that comedian Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman as a late night host on the network. Letterman, who turns 67 on Saturday, announced his retirement last week.

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Out Of Delhi, A Potential Sea Change For India Election

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:08

Thursday's a milestone day in India's long election, as 11 states and territories vote on seats in the lower house of parliament. The ruling Congress Party is suffering under anti-incumbent sentiment.

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Austin Hosts Presidents Past And Present To Honor Civil Rights

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:08

President Obama is in Austin, Texas, honoring the legacy of President Lyndon Johnson and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He's one of four U.S. presidents to appear at a civil rights summit this week.

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Budget Bomb-Throwing Resumes With Party Line Vote

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:08

The House voted Thursday to approve the budget introduced by Paul Ryan. It was passed on a party line vote. NPR's Tamara Keith joins the program to talk politics and policy.

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A Year After Bombings, Some Say 'Boston Strong' Has Gone Overboard

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:08

The slogan is plastered on cars, cut into the grass at Fenway, tattooed on arms, bedazzled on sweatshirts and printed on T-shirts (and everything else). But some wonder whether it's time to retire it.

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Drilling Frenzy Fuels Sudden Growth In Small Texas Town

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:08

The boom has brought unexpected prosperity — and many new problems — to Cotulla. It's in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale area, which has quickly become the nation's No. 2 oil-producing region.

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GM To Take $1.3 Billion Charge Linked To Recall

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 12:01

The announcement comes on the same day that the automaker said it was suspending two engineers linked to the ignition switch defect that triggered the recall.

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Look out, Human Resources departments

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 11:59

The Wall Street Journal says there's anecdotal evidence that some companies are choosing to get rid of their Human Resources department. Employers are asking managers to pick up all that interpoersonal stuff, with computer software picking up the payroll and benefits paperwork.

"There's something seductive about the logic of it." says Nancy Koehn, historian at the Harvard Business school.

But she's not convinced it's a good idea. "There's a reason that early twenty-first century companies of any size end up having...a human resource department."

Koehn says it's vital to have someone to settle workplace disputes, manage pay, and to make sure the employees and the company are compliant with state and federal laws.

She also points to companies known for their happy workforce, like Southwest Airlines, Coca-Cola, who invest in huge amounts of human resource management: "It's no surprise -- but an engaged, satisfied, non-bickering workforce that's legally compliant is critically important to the ka-ching, ka-ching of winning in the marketplace."

Can fast fashion compete with Prada?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 11:56

The fast-fashion retailer H&M is debuting its high-end spin-off brand, "Collection of Style," in pop-up stores in the U.S. next week. The brand, COS for short, is an upscale line that aims to mimic the look of popular fashion brands, such as Prada or Jil Sander, while keeping costs down. The company is scheduled to open full stores in the U.S. later this year.

"It's much less expensive, and it's hip in a way that I don't think fast fashion has had this hip kind of attitude before," says fashion journalist Kate Betts, author of the book, "Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the power of style."

COS has stores in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It's only now starting to venture into the American market, with plans to open stores in New York and Los Angeles.

Betts points out that COS has a viable market in the U.S.: "The retailers, the department stores have given women the habit of buying everything on sale, so they're not going to pay full-price for anything anymore."

How Rwanda's Only Ice Cream Shop Challenges Cultural Taboos

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-10 11:36

Rwanda is a hot country, and people love dairy products. But the culture discourages public displays of need, including hunger. The women running the lone ice cream shop are trying to change that.

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Last week may have been Gouda, but this week is Feta

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 11:23

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's what's coming up April 11:

  • In Washington, the Labor Department issues its Producer Price Index for March.
  • The International Energy Agency releases its monthly oil market report on supply and demand around the globe.
  • The University of Michigan releases its preliminary April consumer sentiment survey.
  • "Houston, we've had a problem here." That was communication from the aborted Apollo 13 mission that launched on April 11, 1970. The crew didn't land on the Moon as planned, but they did eventually splash down safely on Earth. You probably saw the movie.
  • Iowans were the first to pay a state tax on cigarettes. A 2 cent per pack tax was imposed on April 11, 1921.
  • And foodies probably already know that it's National Cheese Fondue Day. What beats things dipped in cheese? Help me. I'm drawing a blank.

Last week may have been Goulda, but this week is Feta

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 11:23

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's what's coming up April 11:

  • In Washington, the Labor Department issues its Producer Price Index for March.
  • The International Energy Agency releases its monthly oil market report on supply and demand around the globe.
  • The University of Michigan releases its preliminary April consumer sentiment survey.
  • "Houston, we've had a problem here." That was communication from the aborted Apollo 13 mission that launched on April 11, 1970. The crew didn't land on the Moon as planned, but they did eventually splash down safely on Earth. You probably saw the movie.
  • Iowans were the first to pay a state tax on cigarettes. A 2 cent per pack tax was imposed on April 11, 1921.
  • And foodies probably already know that it's National Cheese Fondue Day. What beats things dipped in cheese? Help me. I'm drawing a blank.

When rural hospitals close, towns struggle to stay open

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-10 11:15

There’s a healthcare crisis in America that you might not have heard about: Rural hospitals are closing at a rate that’s starting to get some politicians’ attention. Republicans blame Obamacare, while Democrats blame some states’ refusal to expand Medicaid. In reality, the problem started years before all that.

What's clear is that rural hospitals and the rural economy rise and fall together.

Hancock Memorial Hospital in the tiny town of Sparta, Georgia was among the first of nine rural hospitals that have closed across Georgia since 2000. Today, it’s overgrown with weeds and vines, while the roof caves on the gurneys and computers still inside.

“I mean, it was just not economically feasible to maintain the staff and the equipment,” says Robert Moore, whose family has lived in Hancock County since they were emancipated.

Sparta was once a fancy town with lots of antebellum mansions. But Moore says things really started going south in the 1990s.

“Rural Georgia was based on the textile industry, and when NAFTA was signed, all that moved to Mexico, and… sent everything into a downspin,” Moore says.

Hancock County Commission Chair Sistie Hudson says it’s not surprising that a population so small and so poor can't support a whole hospital. “There’s about 2,600 people [in Hancock County] that still work, out of the little more than 8,000 that we have,” she says.

But with Hancock Memorial boarded up, the prospects for future growth are even worse. When Hudson tries to recruit a new industrial employer, one of the first things they ask is: “Do you have a hospital?”

“You just really need a local facility just in case somebody gets hurt in these factories, you know? It’s something that they like to see,” Hudson says.

Just imagine what having no emergency room nearby would do to a company’s workers comp and other insurance costs. It’s a non-starter for most businesses. 

University of North Carolina professor Mark Holmes studied the economic impact of 140 rural hospital closures nationwide.  He found that three years out, losing a hospital costs a community, on average, “about 1.6 percentage points in unemployment, about $700 in per capita income, and that was in [year] 2000 dollars so that’d be probably about $1,000 currently."

And that’s only the effect on economic health. What about health?

Speaking on the subject a few weeks ago, Georgia state Senator David Lucas paused several times to weep as he addressed his colleagues this spring: “[It] ends up with rural communities, such as Hancock County, where 39 percent of the folks who have a stroke or have a heart attack die." That’s a lot higher than in counties with hospitals close by.

Georgia officials are exploring solutions to this problem that could become a national model – basically, a medical facility that does more than an urgent care clinic, but isn’t as big a whole hospital. But Georgia’s Community Health Commissioner Clyde Reese says America’s healthcare system doesn’t provide enough ways for the operator of that kind of place to get paid.

“They’re not going to be hospitals, they won’t be reimbursed as hospitals, they won’t be able to charge a facility fee, they won’t get the Medicaid add-on rate, etc.,” Reese says.

Reese is working on ways to fix that. Because without reimbursements, there will be no emergency care. And with no emergency care, there probably will be no new jobs in Hancock County.

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