National News

Details Emerge About Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-26 05:49

His flying club says Lubitz "wanted to see his dream of flying fulfilled." Investigators say he appears to have deliberately crashed Flight 4U 9525 into the French Alps, killing 150 people.

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French Prosecutor Points Toward Co-Pilot's Actions In Jet's Crash

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-26 05:17

French officials believe the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane that went down in the Alps intentionally crashed the plane. Steve Inskeep speaks with NPR's Eleanor Beardsley for the latest.

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Former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Released From Prison

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-26 04:46

The son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson will serve out the remainder of his sentence for misappropriating campaign funds for personal use at a halfway house in Washington, D.C.

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A Reporter Chauffeurs A Chinese Couple 500 Miles To Their Rural Wedding

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-26 04:43

NPR's Frank Langfitt, who has been driving Chinese people around Shanghai to meet a variety of people and better understand the rapidly changing country, takes his experiment to a whole new level.

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Why It's So Hard For Us To Agree About Dong From 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-26 04:03

With a name like Dong — and so few roles for Asian-American men on TV — it's understandable that this character has been raising eyebrows. But in the context of the show, Dong makes complete sense.

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Are Women's Colleges Doomed? What Sweet Briar's Demise Tells Us

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-26 04:03

Administrators say that the Virginia institution has been grappling with financial troubles for decades. And they blame an increasing lack of interest in single-sex education.

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Payday Loans — And Endless Cycles Of Debt — Targeted By Federal Watchdog

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-26 03:58

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is readying new regulations on payday loans and other high-cost forms of credit. Officials with the agency say the loans can trap borrowers in a cycle of debt.

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Focus Of Crash Investigation Shifts To Pilots Of Germanwings Plane

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-26 03:33

The New York Times and other news organizations are reporting that one of the pilots was locked out of the cockpit before the crash. Germanwings said it could neither confirm nor deny the report.

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PODCAST: The relationship of regulating

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-26 03:00

Markets react to airstrikes in Yemen, questions over the nature of "regulatory capture," and Kim Gordon talks about her greatest money lesson.

Saudis Target Houthi Positions In Yemen

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-26 02:48

Saudi Arabia and nine other countries launched airstrikes against the Shiite rebels, who have taken control of much of the country. The U.S. is providing logistical and intelligence support.

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Women get “swatted” too

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-26 02:01

Swatting — making prank calls to 911 to send a SWAT team to someone’s home while they are online playing a video game live — has been in the news lately. (Here and here, just to name a few.)

Swatting is enabled by something else called “doxxing” or “dropping dox” - “The act of posting someone's personal and/ or identifying  information without their consent,” says Sarah Jeong, a tech reporter in Silicon Valley. That information could be anything from an address to a Social Security Number.

Swatting or doxxing, Jeong says, is the only way to hurt someone in the virtual world of gamers, where the practice is most common. “It’s assault by proxy,” she says.

The reason swatting has been getting so much attention, she believes, is the “high-profile” cases that happen on camera. That is, when someone is interrupted while playing a video game online and also live streaming themselves playing the video game.

“That’s actually a form of media that young people consume and being able to manipulate that media...imagine if, with a phone call, you could change what’s happening on your television,” says Jeong.

While getting more media attention was a major step in fixing the problem, she adds, she was also concerned that a lot of the coverage focused on men.

“Three people were swatted in January and two of them were women,” she says. “The three that I am thinking of were swatted because they were critics of Gamergate.”

“There is a wave of this kind of behaviour that is specifically focused around trying to drive out feminist voices from the internet,” says Jeong.

The only way, she says, is for the media to cover swatting more without focusing on men’s experiences alone.

“I understand that it’s hard because women don’t really want to talk about how they were doxxed and swatted,” says Jeong. “And now media thinks of swatting and doxxing as something that happens to young men by young men as opposed to it being a larger phenomenon that includes this wave of violence against women.”

 

The health insurance industry looks...well, healthy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-26 02:00

On Thursday, a new report out from the Commonwealth Fund finds the health insurance industry is doing just fine, thank you very much.

That’s contrary to the deep-seated fears of some as the Affordable Care Act launched back in 2010. But with three years’ worth of data on the books now, and insurers’ stock prices soaring, those fears have faded.

From a business standpoint, it’s a particularly impressive feat considering that on the eve of the ACA, some insurers wondered how they’d keep the lights on after the federal government killed its golden goose. Under the law, the ACA bars companies from denying sick people coverage, a source of significant profits. It was a daunting moment says Wake Forest Professor Mark Hall.

“Insurance companies had to figure out how to sail through those shifting currents, and what we’ve seen after these several years is that they’ve sailed through those choppy seas quite well,” he says.

Despite no longer cherry-picking patients, the Commonwealth report shows that industry profits remain nearly identical to before implementation of the ACA. Bloomberg Industries Analyst Brian Rye says Obamacare has been very good for insurers.

“When it becomes a law that you have to do something it’s amazing how much demand improves,” he says.

Of course Rye is talking about the fact that now most adults are required to carry insurance, and the federal government helps people pay for that coverage. That has led to millions of new customers for the insurers who today have a new golden goose.

Balancing collaboration and skepticism in regulation

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-26 02:00

In college, they teach a phenomenon called "regulatory capture," where government regulators absorb the values and become buddy-buddy with the industries they regulate. It gets some of the blame for the great financial collapse more than five years ago.

But a prominent Wall Street lawyer H. Rodgin Cohen told a banking law conference in Phoenix the other other day that he doesn't see capture—He sees the opposite, which he thinks is a problem.

Click the media player above to hear H. Rodgin Cohen in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

Microsoft wants contractors to take some time off

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-26 02:00

Microsoft is requiring companies it contracts with to give their employees—the ones who are full-time and who do work for Microsoft—at least 15 days of paid time off.

The tech giant says it made the move because its own employees were bringing up the issue of subcontractors' time off with the company.

"There was a concern being conveyed that these individuals, in some cases, did not get minimum time off," says Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel.

The company is now mandating that over the next 12 months, all of its suppliers (or contractors, Smith says the term is interchangeable) with 50 or more employees offer at east 12 paid days off, or 10 vacation days and 5 sick days.

Smith says the company does not yet know how many employees or employers will be affected by the new rule, because Microsoft doesn't know the size of all of its contractors or the employee time-off benefits those contractors currently offer.

But Microsoft says it contracts with approximately 2,000 U.S. companies. They, in turn, employ cafeteria workers, receptionists, language translators, consultants, public relations professionals, lawyers, and others.

"For companies that don't have these benefits today. We're asking them to change some policies that may very well increase some of their costs," says Smith. "We went into this quite consciously aware and prepared for the cost increases that may well come back to us."

Mike Aitken, VP of government affairs at the Society for Human Resource management, says paid time off is a worthwhile investment.

"We know that employers that offer these programs have lower turnover. They have higher engagement from these employees," says Aitken.

An SHRM sponsored study found that almost all employers with 50 or more full-time employees offered some amount of paid time off. But, the report found that only a quarter to a third offered time off to part-time employees. And not all offered a minimum of 15 days paid time off.

All the President's Pens

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-26 01:59
22 percent

The portion of companies that presented at Y Combinator Demo Days this week with at least one female founder, FiveThirtyEight reported. The tech incubator's president has been vocal about the need to increase diversity in tech, and Y Combinator's data show the number of women is increasing, albeit very slowly.

We also spoke with one venture capitalist about what it's like to get pitches from over 100 companies in two days.

15 days

That's how many days off Microsoft is requiring companies it contracts to give employees, albeit those who work full-time for Microsoft. It is unclear as of yet how many people will benefit from the mandate, as Microsoft doesn't have information on the current policies of companies it works with.

$150

The list price for a pen similar to the one President Barack Obama uses to sign bills into law. A.T. Cross makes them, and we talked to their CEO about what it's like to be the official pen provider to the White House.

27.6 percent

That's the interest rate on Marketplace Weekend host Lizzie O'Leary's credit card back in 2000. After moving to New York and buying what she thought she needed to truly belong, O'Leary describes learning some hard truths about debt, and how identity can't be found in things. You can read more stories about money lessons learned through our joint project with the New York Times entitled "My Biggest Financial Lesson."

114,000 residents

That's how many residents currently live in The Villages, a senior community outside of Orlando, Florida. As reported by the WSJ, census data shows that The Villages is the country's fastest growing city with a growth of 5.4 percent in the year ending July 2014. It's even more impressive when considering this is the second year the city has held this distinction.

Why Doctors Are Trying A Skin Cancer Drug To Treat A Brain Tumor

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 23:52

A drug that's effective in patients with certain forms of melanoma is being tested as a treatment for other cancers whose genetic code contains an identical mutation.

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Don't Torpedo The Dam, Full Speed Ahead For Ethiopia's Nile Project

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 23:50

Egypt was ready to go to war over Ethiopia's planned Renaissance Dam. A new agreement has ended the tension. But that doesn't mean everyone's a winner.

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Closure Of Private Prison Forces Texas County To Plug Financial Gap

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 23:49

A riot at a private immigration prison in Willacy County, Texas, forced officials to close the facility and relocate 2,800 inmates. But it also left the county with a $2.3 million budget shortfall.

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Is Capitol Hill Ready To Rest Its Near-Annual 'Doc Fix' Exercise?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 23:48

Doctors who treat Medicare patients will face a huge cut, 21 percent, if Congress doesn't act by the end of the month. House leaders now think they fix a problem that has plagued Congress since 1997.

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Midwest Town Braces For More Steel Layoffs

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-25 18:42

U.S. Steel is shutting down its Granite City Works in southern Illinois. The plant makes flat-rolled steel for oil companies, which have been hit by lower oil prices.

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