National News

Big Banks Will Pay $4.25 Billion In Fines Over Currency Charges

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-12 10:25

U.S. firms Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase will pay the largest fines, around $1 billion each, to settle civil charges that they colluded to manipulate the foreign exchange market.

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The numbers for November 12, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-11-12 10:16

Before leaving to continue his tour of Asia, President Barack Obama signed a climate change agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The announcement Wednesday was part of a nine-month planning process. The U.S. will double its current rate of carbon cuts with a target of reducing 26 to 28 percent by 2025, while China pledged to peak its emissions growth by 2030. The plan is already getting pushback from the new Republican Senate majority, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Here are some stories we're reading and other numbers we're watching Wednesday:

$9.9 billion

That's how much merchandise Alibaba sold during its 11/11 shopping event Tuesday, shattering last year's 11/11 and all online sales around Thanksgiving last year, AdAge reported. Nearly half of those sales came from mobile and Chinese brands dominated.

50 million

That's Spotify's active user base, and 12.5 million of them pay for the subscription service. Spotify has seen powerful growth, but the start-up could very well be threatened by YouTube, which is launching its own service with an invite-only beta this week. It's called YouTube Music Key, and yes, it has Taylor Swift.

732,732

The number of followers Alex Lee, a.k.a #AlexFromTarget, had on Twitter as of Wednesday morning. When a photo of Lee at work went viral earlier this month, he was bombarded with requests for photos, endorsements and television appearances as well as threats and harassment. A New York Times story published Wednesday tracked the explosion of fame from Lee's perspective.

39 grams

That's how much sugar is in Starbucks' first new holiday beverage in five years, the Chestnut Praline Latte, which debuts Wednesday. That's actually on the low side - the eggnog latte, peppermint mocha and pumpkin spice latte all hover around 50 grams. ABC News has a taste test.

Obamacare Architect Apologizes For Remarks On The Law's Passage

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-12 09:45

In a video, economist Jonathan Gruber says "the stupidity of the American voter" was key to the law's passage. He has apologized, but critics say his remarks are an admission of intentional deceit.

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Afghanistan's Opium Harvest Sets New Record

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-12 09:36

An annual U.N. report finds that more than 550,000 acres were cultivated with opium poppies this year — that's approaching the total land area of Rhode Island.

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S.C. Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Overturned

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-12 09:23

Rejecting the state's argument that it, not the U.S. government, has the authority to define marriage, a federal judge overturned South Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday.

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Golden State Joe: California Makes A Play For Coffee's Future

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-12 09:15

California's coffee crop is new and small, but farmers are optimistic about its potential. Scientists hope that by growing coffee here they can learn more about how to help the crop resist disease.

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Training The Next Generation Of Doctors To Get LGBT Health Right

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-12 09:01

People who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender often have a hard time getting appropriate health care. Med schools need to integrate LGBT health throughout training, a key group says.

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The Data You're OK Sharing And What You Don't Want Others To See

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-12 06:13

People consider their personal health information to be more sensitive than their religious views or purchasing habits, according to a survey on privacy by the Pew Research Center.

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The cost of living up to the U.S.-China climate deal

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-11-12 06:00

The United States and China made a surprise announcement Wednesday: After months of secret talks, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases had come to a joint agreement on climate change.

In its first commitment of this sort, China set a target of 2030 to halt emission increases and to produce 20% of its energy using non-fossil-fuel sources. 

The United States set a more nuanced target: a reduction of emissions by 2025 to 26-28% below 2005 levels. 

"I would characterize it as a call to accelerate what we’re already doing," says Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. "I use the word accelerate, because in order to get there 10 years from now we have to start going a little faster."

The Obama administration claims this target is reachable under existing laws—an important consideration given that the Republican-controlled congress is highly unlikely to pass any related legislation.

To meet these goals will require building on initiatives the administration has put forward that do not require congressional approval, such as tougher fuel standards and the proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions from power plants (Automobiles and electricity are the two largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States).  

Under the Clean Power Plan proposal, different states could determine how to cut carbon pollution in a variety of ways. 

"But the quickest, fastest, most cost effective option available is switching from carbon intensive coal generators to low carbon natural gas," says John Larsen, senior analyst with the Rhodium Group.

According to the Rhodium Group’s analysis, that switch could cut coal revenue by $15 to $20 billion—and boost revenues for natural gas producers by as much as $30 billion.

In Alaska's Senate Race, Republican Sullivan Upsets Incumbent

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-12 05:13

The late call in Alaska's vote is due to a close margin on Election Day and the time required to collect all the ballots from the state's far-flung polling places.

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Comet Landing: European Craft Due To Make Contact Today

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-12 04:25

As it hopes to learn the Philae robotic lander successfully settled onto the comet's surface, the European Space Agency says it is in contact with the spacecraft.

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