National News

British Actor Bob Hoskins Dies At 71

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 05:14

He was best known for films such as The Long Good Friday, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Mona Lisa. Hoskins' agent said the actor died Tuesday from pneumonia.

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Amid Violence And Without U.S. Troops, Iraq Votes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 04:59

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's party appears to be the strongest going into Wednesday's polls. In a country plagued by bloodshed and sectarian divisions, the vote is testing Iraq to the limits.

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Amid Violence And Without U.S. Troops, Iraq Votes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 04:59

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's party appears to be the strongest going into Wednesday's polls. In a country plagued by bloodshed and sectarian divisions, the vote is testing Iraq to the limits.

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Harsh Winter Puts The Brakes On U.S. Economic Growth

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 04:56

First-quarter GDP fell to just 0.1 percent, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which blamed much of the slowing on weather-related factors.

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Economic growth in the U.S. stalled this winter

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 04:19

On Wednesday the government reported GDP numbers. Turns out, January to March showed hardly any growth -- an annual rate of just one-tenth of one percent, way below forecasts. Spending on goods was down, but for services, like healthcare, consumer spending was up. Business investments and exports were down, so it wasn't just the weather. But analysts say more recent data suggest the current quarter will be better.

GDP measures when money changes hands. On this program, we keep track of alternative measures. Chris Hoenig is President of The State of the USA, an outfit that's working with the government to come up with an online, interactive scorecard for how we're doing. He joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss. 

Australia Rebuffs Possibility Of Flight 370 Wreckage In Bay Of Bengal

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 04:03

A marine exploration firm says it has found what may be debris from the missing plane in the Bay of Bengal. But the head of search efforts off Australia says his team is "looking in the right place."

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Bad Behavior From A Sports Franchise Owner? That's Not New

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 03:43

As the Donald Sterling controversy unfolds, commentator Frank Deford recalls scandals surrounding other team owners, and penalties they did or didn't pay.

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The person managing your future, revealed

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 03:12

Like it or not, more and more Americans have their futures wrapped up in Wall Street. Old age once included a sizable pension paid for by the employer you retired from. But these days, many Americans have to fend for themselves by saving and investing through 401(k)s and other retirement accounts. That means putting money into the complicated and mysterious gears of Wall Street.

Liz Gross is part of that. The 31-year-old Oconomowoc, Wisconsin resident invests a chunk of her salary in a 401(k). Like many Americans, she thinks of herself as something of a novice when it comes to investing.

“I understand the basic ideas of investing and saving early,” she says. “As far as picking the stocks and the funds that I should be in, it’s not something I’m entirely comfortable with.”

That’s why she chose a target date mutual fund, a popular choice these days. The idea is investors choose the year they want to retire and the fund does the rest. (Ideally, they also check the fund’s fees first.) Each is a little different, but the basic idea is the investments become more conservative over time as the retirement date draws near.

Since so many Americans are investing this way, we thought it’d be interesting to connect Gross with the person managing her future. After we talked to Gross and learned about her investments, we called up Andrew Dierdorf, a portfolio manager at Fidelity. His team oversees nearly $200 billion dollars in retirement money, including the fund Gross has invested in. The futures of millions of American, including Gross, are quite literally in his hands.

We connected them both an invited Gross to ask him questions.

Gross: This is definitely your wheelhouse and not mine, so I kind of wanna turn the tables on you and ask how do you plan for your retirement and have you thought about investing in a target date fund?

Dierdorf: They’re my sole holding in my 401(k) account. So, I struggle with a lot of the same types of issues around making sure that I have my asset allocation appropriate as I’m moving through time. So I’m eating my own cooking.

Mark Garrison: Meet Liz Gross.

Liz Gross: I’m 31 and I live in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. I have a 401(k) in which I invest a portion of my salary.

Her job kicks in money too. But unlike traditional pensions, she has to figure out how to invest. Alicia Munnell runs Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research.

Alicia Munnell: All the risks and responsibilities have shifted to the employee, that is, to us.

A nation of untrained investors faces choices with lifetime consequences.

Gross: I understand the basic ideas of investing and saving early, but as far as picking the stocks and the funds that I should be in, it’s not something I’m entirely comfortable with.

That’s why Gross chose a target date mutual fund. You choose the date you wanna retire and the fund changes over time to fit that. If you’re smart, you also check the fees first. Since so many Americans are investing this way, we thought it’d be interesting to connect her with the person all the way up the chain.

Andrew Dierdorf: Hi, Liz.

Gross: Hi, Andrew.

Andrew Dierdorf manages the Fidelity fund Gross has. His team oversees nearly $200 billion dollars. The retirements of millions of Americans are quite literally in his hands. So Gross wasn’t shy.

Gross: What is it that you know and what you’ve learned that makes you the person to manage this instead of me, to have me put my trust in you?

He gave the answer you might expect about his experience and the team. But then, Gross threw a curveball.

Gross: This is definitely your wheelhouse and not mine, so I kind of wanna turn the tables on you and ask how do you plan for your retirement and have you thought about investing in a target date fund?

Dierdorf: They’re my sole holding in my 401(k) account. So, I struggle with a lot of the same types of issues around making sure that I have my asset allocation appropriate as I’m moving through time. So I’m eating my own cooking.

Liz Gross felt good about her decision after the talk. Make sure you get answers too. Your job may be able to connect you with free professional advice.

Gross: I just hope other folks are having these conversations with people they trust so that we’re taken care of when the time comes to quit working and go have fun.

In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

After Tornadoes, States Now Brace For Flooding

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 03:12

Following this week's twisters that killed at least 35 people in six states, the weather system is now dumping heavy rain in the East and parts of the South.

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Sizing up Donald Sterling's other business interests

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 02:58

Donald Sterling is number 972 on Forbes' list of billionaires, with a net worth of $1.9 billion. Forbes values the LA Clippers at $430 million, though some say they could be worth more.

The bulk of Sterling’s wealth comes from real estate -- buildings in LA.  So, will his real estate business be tarnished because Sterling has been banned from the game for racist comments?

“Yes, of course,” says Robert Baade, an economist at Wake Forest University. Baade wouldn’t be surprised if people started boycotting all things Sterling.

Any fall out will be short-lived, according to Leonard Baron, a San Diego realtor and lecturer at San Diego State.  He doesn’t think Sterling will lose any tenants. “People renting are going to be like, 'What’s the price and what’s the location?'" he says. "So I doubt it’s going to have any lasting effects at all.”

And, Baron says, if Sterling wants to sell any real estate, there are plenty of buyers willing to pay top dollar.

Innovation: A Gadget That Scrambles The Egg Inside The Shell

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-30 02:48

This new kitchen tool promises to scramble egg whites and the yolk to create delicious culinary creations, and save you from washing a whisk. A soft cradle keeps the egg from breaking.

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AT&T jumps on board with airplane Wi-Fi

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 02:43

This week, AT&T announced it will offer Wi- Fi service on U.S. flights next year.

Until this week, the in-flight internet business was dominated by Gogo.

Roger Entner, with Recon Analytics, says the challenge for AT&T is that only a small fraction of passengers actually use Wi-Fi on flights.

“AT&T is looking at it and says if we bring down price, and we accelerate the speed, more people will use it and then it will become a bigger market.”

Are we moving away from "too big to jail"?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 02:32

Federal prosecutors are preparing criminal charges against Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas, according to reporting in the New York Times. 

Ben Protess, with the Dealbook section of the New York Times, wrote:

Federal prosecutors are nearing criminal charges against some of the world’s biggest banks, according to lawyers briefed on the matter, a development that could produce the first guilty plea from a major bank in more than two decades.

In doing so, prosecutors are confronting the popular belief that Wall Street institutions have grown so important to the economy that they cannot be charged. A lack of criminal prosecutions of banks and their leaders fueled a public outcry over the perception that Wall Street giants are “too big to jail.”

"These investigations have been going on for years," Protess told Marketplace. "This is kind of a new batch of cases the last few years."

In the case of the Swiss bank, it involves allegations that it helped clients avoid taxes. In the case of BNP Paribas, it's about doing business with companies in violation of U.S. economic sanctions. The Times says this would challenge a common belief in the financial world that big banks are too important to charge in criminal cases.

"In the Credit Suisse case, that one could really be in the next couple weeks," Protess says. "We're expecting either a guilty plea for the main arm of Credit Suisse in Zurich, or perhaps even the parent company."

Donald Sterling donates a lot of Clippers tickets

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 01:55

Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who on Tuesday was banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million for racist remarks, reportedly has something of a history of offensive remarks and questionable business practices. Even before the furor over Sterling's most recent indiscretion, he was widely reviled by the rest of the NBA for his tight-fisted management of the Clippers that for years earned the team a reputation as the worst franchise in the NBA (and even all major league sports).

He also has a history of philanthropy, as Sterling has been the recipient of donor awards from numerous organizations like the Special Olympics and the NAACP. Whether or not Sterling's charitable efforts were a form of "reputation laundering," his aversion to spending money seemingly didn't extend to his charitable donations.

But one thing tends to pop up when reviewing Sterling's philanthropy: He gives away a lot of Clippers tickets in lieu of cash.

Not to misrepresent Sterling; he has donated millions of dollars over the years to various organizations. But his donations of Clippers tickets -- over 280,000 tickets to more than 2,000 community groups over the past few years -- are a high-profile aspect of his philanthropy.

Sterling would give around 2,000 to 3,000 tickets per game to youth groups. Those tickets may have been hot commodities over the past few seasons, but before the Clippers successful streak, Sterling's generosity had more of an appearance that he was just filling empty Staples Center seats to boost attendance.

A Sports Illustrated profile on Sterling from 2000 offers probably the most striking example of Sterling's attitudes toward his ticket donations:

Not that every charity has found it easy to separate Sterling from his swag. Linda McCoy-Murray recognized that last summer when she phoned him to help sponsor a golf tournament in honor of her late husband, venerated L.A. Times sports columnist Jim Murray. Every pro franchise in California, according to McCoy-Murray had forked over at least $5,000 to her foundation, which provides journalism scholarships. Every pro franchise, that is, except the Clippers, which had memorialized Murray on the final page of last season's media guide. Sterling offered McCoy-Murray two season passes. "You know, that's wonderful," she remembers telling him. "but we're trying to endow a college scholarship fund. We could really use cash."

Sterling, she says, replied, "Those two tickets have a face value of $4,000!"

"Fine," she said. "We can use the tickets for our silent auction. But would you also consider donating $5,000?"

Sterling said he would mull it over and call her the following week. He never did nor did he send over the season passes.

Becoming a YouTube star

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-30 01:00

Not many teenagers can claim self-made stardom. 18 year old YouTube star Bethany Mota has developed a devoted online following with her videos on makeup, clothes, and other teen-related topics. Her interest in making YouTube videos was a result of being bullied online. 

"I think because at the time I was experiencing the dark side of online media, I found this really positive community on youtube that I didn’t even know existed," says Mota. These days, she has a lot to be excited about - Mota has close to 6 million followers on her YouTube channel.

Check out her latest video here:

Training Men And Women On Campus To 'Speak Up' To Prevent Rape

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 23:31

Colleges are teaching students what's known as bystander intervention, based on the idea that both men and women can intervene to interrupt behaviors that could lead to sexual assault.

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An Afghan Village Of Drug Addicts, From Ages 10 to 60

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 23:31

Afghanistan is not just a world leader in producing drugs. It's also a leading consumer. Drug users addicted to heroin, and more recently crystal meth, are everywhere in the western city of Herat.

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Mysterious Kidney Disease Slays Farmworkers In Central America

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 23:30

One community has lost so many men that it's now called the Island of Widows. Researchers are struggling to figure out the cause of the disease. Some suspect a popular herbicide.

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Heartened By Sterling's Ban, Clippers Beat Warriors 113-103

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 21:40

The Los Angeles Clippers lead the Golden State Warriors 3-2 in the series. Owner Donald Sterling wasn't there. On Tuesday, the NBA banned him for life after he made racist comments.

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