National News

Farmers feel ripple effects of the oil boom

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

The oil boom in Texas has ripple effects that go beyond the cost of gasoline. Kai Ryssdal talked with commercial grain farmer Curt Mowery of Mowery Farms in Rosharon, Texas, to find out how oil is reflected in his business.

As a commercial grain farmer, Mowery estimates that 50 percent of his costs circle around oil. Some examples include the chemical costs on some of the crop protectants, containers and transportation from getting grain from the field to the processor. “Everything’s tied to oil that we do in our business,” he says.

As the cost of oil goes down, Mowery might see savings in 2016, but he doesn’t believe the consumer will see savings for a while. “The price will go down a lot slower than the price will go up," he says.

Oil prices scrape bottom of the barrel

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

Crude oil prices fell to 5½ -year lows on Thursday. The price of Brent Crude closed at $59.27 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate Crude closed at $54.11 a barrel.

A barrel of crude oil is a “convenient measure,” says Eric Smith, associate director of Tulane University’s Energy Institute. “It’s 42 gallons because that’s what John D. Rockefeller put it in – old beer barrels, back in the 1890s.” Today, oil moves in pipelines, tanker ships, barges and railcars to get from the oil fields – whether in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria or North Dakota – to the refineries.

Transportation only constitutes a small fraction of the barrel’s cost, according to economist Rayola Dougher of the American Petroleum Institute, the industry trade group. Most of the cost of oil can be attributed to exploration, drilling and pumping.

“Finding the oil is a very involved process,” says Dougher. “Onshore it can take $19 to $20 a barrel, but it could be twice to three times as much offshore.”

In the Bakken shale oil fields in North Dakota, which are pumping out a lot of high-quality light sweet crude (a similar grade to the benchmark West Texas Intermediate), producers can still make a small profit with crude in the $55-a-barrel range, after subtracting the costs of exploration, production and transportation, Smith says.

“You’d probably go down to $30 before somebody shuts in a well. They might not drill a new one. But they wouldn’t stop producing the old one until the price got below that cost.”

White House Says Response To Sony Attack Will Be 'Proportional'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 10:27

The White House won't confirm North Korea is behind the attack, citing an ongoing investigation. Nevertheless, it is mulling over its options.

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NIH Allows Restart Of MERS Research That Had Been Questioned

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 10:20

The National Institutes of Health has approved requests for waivers from a moratorium on experiments that aim to make the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome more infectious in mice.

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6 Things You Should Know About Cuban Cigars

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 09:42

If you plan on traveling to Cuba to pick up some cigars, here are some facts you should know.

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Boko Haram Suspected In New Round Of Killing And Kidnapping

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 09:15

The latest killing and kidnapping occurred just 20 miles from where the Islamist extremist group kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in April.

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Tourtiere: A French-Canadian Twist On Christmas Pie

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 09:09

On Christmas Eve, many French-Canadians will gather after midnight Mass for reveillon, a lavish dinner party that lasts into the wee hours. The traditional centerpiece is a savory, spiced meat pie.

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Pakistani Court Grants Bail To Suspect In Mumbai Attack

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 08:35

Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi is one of seven men charged with planning and helping to carry out the 2008 attack that killed more than 160 people. Federal prosecutors had opposed the bail plea.

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Death Comes In Many Different Ways. And Some Are A Bit Surprising

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 07:50

A new report looks at the top causes of death in 188 countries. Infectious diseases are less of a threat than in 1990 but please, look both ways before you cross the street.

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California Whooping Cough Infections Run High Among Latino Babies

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 07:49

Public health officials in California are trying to understand why Latino babies are contracting whooping cough at much higher rates than other babies.

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India Tests Crew Capsule, New Heavy-Lift Rocket

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 07:41

An improved version of India's largest space-launch vehicle carried an unmanned crew capsule that was recovered after splashdown in the Andaman Sea.

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Montana Man Found Guilty Of Killing German Exchange Student

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 07:27

Markus Kaarma shot 17-year-old Diren Dede, who had entered his garage, over the summer. The case was a test of the state's "castle doctrine," which says a man's home can be defended like his castle.

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Quiz: The art of the academic turnaround

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 07:18

Low-performing schools reported how they are trying to improve in an Education Department survey of administrators whose schools are eligible for School Improvement Grants funds.

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FIFA Begins Meeting After American Lawyer's Angry Resignation

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 06:55

Soccer's governing body will, among other things, discuss preparations for the 2018 World Cup. But it's the resignation of Michael Garcia over his corruption report that is likely to draw attention.

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Is Your State Ready For The Next Infectious Outbreak? Probably Not

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 06:30

Public health has a way of slipping off the radar when people aren't scared about Ebola or anthrax. But that doesn't mean the threats go away. And most states aren't prepared for the next one.

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2014 Saw Fewest Executions In 20 Years, Report Finds

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 06:25

The Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment, says executions dropped in part because some states had issues with their lethal injections.

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Putin: Sanctions, Falling Oil Prices Causing Ruble's Tumble

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 06:17

In a year-end news conference, the Russian President said the worst-case scenario for his country's economy would involve two more years of unease.

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Worries About Unusual Botulinum Toxin Prove Unfounded

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 05:47

A previously unknown form of botulinum toxin was thought to be resistant to standard treatment raised public health concerns. Subsequent research has allayed those fears.

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Pakistan Keeps On Vaccinating Despite Tough Terrain And Terror Threat

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 05:40

Just getting a measles vaccine to a child in Pakistan was once an impossible dream. Despite many obstacles, health workers have made great progress in stopping infectious diseases.

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The Many Rabbit Holes (Or Should We Say Labyrinths) Of 'Serial'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 03:54

The thing about Serial and its endless rabbit holes is that no matter how you view the podcast, there's an endless supply of avenues you can explore and different conversations you can have.

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