National News

Elephant On The Menu? It's Not Just A Birthday Dish For Robert Mugabe

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 10:45

The Zimbabwean ruler reportedly served pachyderm at his 91st birthday party. Does anyone else do that? Turns out, yes.

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Spirit Air: slashing prices at 30,000 feet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-03-02 10:19

Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza isn't worried about providing passengers with free peanuts and complimentary hot towels. 

"When you talk to a lot of customers what you find is that most of them, when they think about what airline they want to fly, want the lowest price," he says.

Instead of pampering passengers with free drinks, Spirit charges customers for almost everything, including printing a boarding pass at the airport

How does Baldanza respond to criticism that his airline gets for being the only 'two star' rated carrier? "Economists call airlines an intermediate good, which means that you're not buying an airline trip because you want to be on the airplane, you want to be somewhere," says Baldanza. 

According to Baldanza, many of Spirit's customers are buying plane tickets for themselves, not for a business trip, so they're more worried about airfare. 

"We believe we have a totally different customer base than a Delta or an American or a United. The difference is that we target at Spirit customers who are paying for tickets themselves," he says.

But Baldanza says it's a pleasure to try to get his customers the lowest possible airfare.

"At Spirit it's really mind-opening and it's really rewarding to think about how can we make it cheaper to go tomorrow than today."

Toronto Police Say Riddle Of Mysterious Tunnel Solved

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 10:04

Police say two men claimed they dug the tunnel for "personal reasons." The case has since been closed.

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A New Front In The Ukrainian Conflict: Russian Gas Imports

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 09:34

Russia has cut off Ukraine's gas supplies in the past and is threatening to do it again. The latest payment dispute comes at a sensitive moment in the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

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Clinton's Portrait Has Hint Of Lewinsky's Blue Dress, Artist Says

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 09:29

Nelson Shanks tells the Philadelphia Daily News a shadow on the left side of the painting represents not only the infamous dress, but also "a shadow on the office he held, or on" President Clinton.

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Wages And Prices: A Welcome Breakup

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 09:15

A Commerce Department report shows paychecks are fatter, prices are leaner and Americans are saving more. Meanwhile, prices fell by 0.5 percent. That's helping consumers on the rebound from recession.

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Jeep eyes international sales

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-03-02 08:46

Jeep, the iconic brand of rugged off-road vehicles, got its start internationally carrying soldiers and equipment across the battlefields of World War II. Now, Jeep is making another international push, but this time it’s hoping to drive sales in the white hot crossover SUV market, with the new Jeep Renegade.

Fiat-Chrysler, which owns the Jeep brand, sold over 1 million cars last year, and the company hopes to nearly double that figure to 1.9 million over the next five years as it adds production lines in Brazil, China and India.

Among CEOs, women are outnumbered by men named John

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-03-02 08:46

If your name is John, congratulations. If you've got a woman's name — literally any woman's name — well, here's the deal.

The New York Times' data journalism venture The Upshot reported Monday there are more CEO's named "John" at S&P 1500 companies than there are women CEOs.

If you toss the names Robert, William and James in the mix, you end up with four CEOs with those names for every female CEO. The Upshot has dubbed that measurement the "Glass Ceiling Index," and they spun it out to several other institutions and fields:

Courtesy:The New York Times

It's not a perfect measure of equality — the Times notes common names won't change at the same rate as gender representation — but it's a stark snapshot of women's standing in the boardroom.

Fiji Launches Competition For New National Flag

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 08:07

The South Pacific nation wants to replace its flag that has a Union Jack and a shield that bears the country's coat of arms. The current flag was adopted in 1970 following independence from Britain.

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Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Congress' Longest-Serving Woman, To Retire

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 07:54

The Maryland Democrat has served in the Senate since 1987, and was the first woman to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Quiz: An econ lesson in open textbooks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-03-02 07:34

College students spend more than $1,000, on average, for textbooks and supplies each year, according to the Student Public Interest Research Groups.

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Nasdaq Index Hits 5,000 For First Time Since 2000

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 07:34

The NASDAQ composite index returned to territory it hasn't seen since the heyday of the dot-com boom, crossing the 5,000 mark in early trading Monday.

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Feds want fewer anti-psychotics prescribed to seniors

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-03-02 06:33

Some patients with dementia can behave in ways that caregivers find difficult: They hit, they yell. Sometimes, they get prescribed anti-psychotics.

The Food and Drug Administration says that such off-label uses are risky — people taking them are more likely to die.  A new report from the Government Accountability Office recommends steps for reducing their use.

Marketing efforts for these non-approved uses have drawn fire from federal prosecutors. In 2013, Johnson & Johnson paid more than a billion dollars in federal fines for improperly marketing its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. In March of this year, a Chicago psychiatrist pleaded guilty to accepting $600,000 in kickbacks from another drug-maker.

Not all adoption is illicit, says Dan Mendolson, CEO of Avalere, a health-care consultancy.

"A lot of the demand is driven by the patients' families," he says. "These are effective drugs, and the reason why they’re so widely prescribed is because they work beautifully."

However, they may eclipse other, safer alternatives, says Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins University.

"There are certainly some settings where clinicians and patients and family members are between a rock and a hard place," Alexander says. "But I don’t think it’s fair to say that there aren’t other options. And I don’t think it’s fair to say that patients are breaking down the doors, trying to access these therapies."

The Department of Health and Human Services has been attempting to reduce the use of these drugs in nursing homes. Today’s report looks at their use with patients in other settings.

Video Shows L.A. Police Shot And Killed Man On Sidewalk

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 06:20

The LAPD says a Taser did not subdue the man, who was struggling with officers on the ground when he was shot to death. Police say the man tried to grab an officer's gun.

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Netanyahu: Reports Of Decline In U.S.-Israel Ties 'Just Wrong'

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 05:41

His remarks at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee come a crucial time for U.S.-Israeli relationship.

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Netanyahu In Washington For Controversial Speech To Congress

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 04:18

"The move has created bad blood between Netanyahu and Obama, and relations between the two countries have suffered," NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

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College: I'll Only Go If I Know (That I Can Afford It)

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 04:03

New research shows if students don't think they can afford college, they may not even apply.

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PODCAST: What's in a tech name?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-03-02 03:00

For the second month in a row, Americans spent less. More on that. Plus, Massive Open Online Courses [MOOCs] will be discussed in California today at the leading online course provider Coursera’s annual conference. A likely discussion on the agenda: the growth of corporate MOOCs. And many cities across the U.S. are trying to become the next Silicon Valley. The word "startup" is often thrown around as these towns try to compete in today's global economy. In Minneapolis, there's even an effort to attract young talent by pushing for a regional name change. 

Iraq Launches Effort To Retake Tikrit From ISIS Fighters

NPR News - Mon, 2015-03-02 02:51

An Iraqi force has begun a large-scale operation to recapture Tikrit, according to state TV. Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, lies between Baghdad and Mosul.

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What 5G means for you

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-03-02 02:00

The Mobile World Congress begins Monday in Barcelona, Spain. The agenda for the first day: 5G.

It’s still an emerging technology, but it’s got everyone excited because of what it promises. You can download movies in seconds, play your GIFs in milliseconds, and power the Internet of Things.

Even the FCC is excited: they announced late last year they they want to plan for 5G cellular networks.  

“This is one of the most exciting things, in my mind, that the FCC has done in a while,” says Ted Rappaport, director of NYU WIRELESS, and a professor at New York University's polytechnic school of engineering. “They have issued a notice of inquiry about how we could we use a vast new spectrum resource that has never been used before for mobile.”

If this happens, says Rappaport, cell phone frequency will at least increase to ten times of what it is now: “Going from 2 or 3 gigahertz to 28 or 38 or 60 or 72 gigahertz.”

Those speeds would bring “enormous”  bandwidth, he adds.

“Billions of dollars are being spent on the research and development for this 5G millimeter wave future,” says Rappaport.