National News

Most Economists Say Happy New Year — Really

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-01 06:01

Annual forecasts are brimming with good cheer for 2014: Jobs will come back, stock prices will keep heading higher, and consumer spending will continue to improve, economists predict.

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With the budget settled, what's Congress going to do next week?

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

Lawmakers are still on recess. Members of the House and Senate don’t return to Washington until next week. When they do get back to DC, there’s one thing they won’t have to deal with for the first time in long time: the budget. The thinking goes, that’ll give them the opportunity to deal with other issues.

Marketplace’s David Gura joins us to talk about what those issues are, like the expired unemployment benefits, the Farm Bill, and immigration reform.

Click on the audio player above to hear more.

 

Tracing the perilous history Antarctic expeditions

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

Off Antarctica, three icebreakers have so far failed to make it through to a Russian ship trapped in the ice since Christmas Eve. It's a research ship with 74 scientists, some tourists, and crew.  Everyone's fine, but now they're waiting for a break in the weather so a helicopter can get through.

Ben Maddison an historian on the ship, and is retracing the voyage of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson who ran into big trouble in the Antarctic a hundred years ago. That's the one where the expedition members had to eat their sleddogs and learned the fatal consequences of injesting concentrations of vitamin A in dog's liver. Our interest is the economic incentives for that famous famous but tragic expedition.

Click on the audio player above to hear more.

The push to educate the newly insured

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-01 03:54

As of December 31, the government says more than two million Americans have signed up for insurance through the state or federal health exchanges – some for the first time. Nearly 4 million more have enrolled in Medicaid.

It's akin to waking up to a new car in your garage, but not necessarily knowing how to drive. And consumers will be the first ones to tell you, there’s a lot to learn about health insurance.

According to a recent report from the Urban Institute, less than half of Americans with insurance felt like they had a good grasp on basic health insurance terms like premium, deductible and covered services.

“A lot of our focus has been on on-boarding a customer,” saysBrian Lobley of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. "What do we do to make that first experience not only useful to them, but to understand it.”

For example, Lobley says consumers might be tempted to purchase a plan with low monthly premiums, but he says that might come with expensive co-pays. 

“And you’d be better off paying a little bit more per month to have a lower out-of-pocket cost,” he says.

Insurers want the customer experience to be positive the first time out. Because if it is, those customers could they stick around for years to come.

The biggest tech legal battles to watch in 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-01 03:27

This week we're talking to people about big tech trends in the coming year. Today it's Cyrus Farivar, senior business editor at the website Ars Technica. He has been looking at some big tech issues in 2014 through the lens of some high profile legal battles.

The first case getting attention this year is that of Pascal Abidor, a French citizen whose laptop and phone were confiscated and copied when he was detained at the border between Canada and the U.S. in 2010. Abidor's lawsuit was dismissed this week by a federal judge in Brooklyn.

Other cases to watch this year include the criminal case centered around the illegal drug marketplace Silk Road, as well as the extradition hearing in New Zealand for Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom.

Click play on the audio player above to hear more.

The tech behind tracking marijuana plants in Colorado

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-01 02:59

Starting today, Colorado will become the first state to begin allowing the sale of marijuana to anyone over the age of 21. Recreational use has been legal in the state for about a year now, but today the plant will be officially available at stores with special liscenses. And, where there's a crop, and retail stores to sell that crop, there's a tracking system -- as in RFID tags. Not an alien concept to the world of retail. Some of these tags have a strap that you can attach to the plant. Each plant gets tagged, each tag has a number, and each number goes into an large online database. The Marijuana Inventory Tracking Solution or as Julie Postlethwait, an officer with Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division, calls it, MITS.

Click on the audio player above to hear more.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush Is Hospitalized

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-01 02:01

Barbara Bush, 88, is in a hospital in Houston with a respiratory-related issue, according to her husband's office.

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Dying Lawyer Convicted Of Aiding Terrorism Leaves Prison

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-01 01:25

In 2005, Lynn Stewart was convicted of helping blind Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman communicate with followers while he was serving a life sentence for plotting to blow up New York City landmarks.

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