National News

Greece Hours Away From Defaulting On IMF Loan

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-30 03:03

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is urging Greeks to vote "no" in Sunday's referendum on proposals from the country's creditors. He says European leaders won't let Greece exit the eurozone.

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President Obama extends overtime pay to more workers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-30 03:00

A new move from President Barack Obama aims to make more Americans eligible for overtime pay. The proposal, announced Tuesday, could mean bigger paychecks for up to five million workers.

Employees with a salary of $23,660 a year or more can be considered management and barred from time-and-a-half pay, even if they work more than 40 hours. The proposed change from the Obama administration would raise the bar to $50,440. And it'll move in the future to keep pace with inflation and wage growth.

Dan Hamermesh, Professor Emeritus of economics at University of Texas at Austin, doesn’t think the overall effects will be very large. Many workers will get small wins: either get a slight bump in take home pay or have slightly shorter hours for the same salary.

“It will also, I’m pretty sure, create jobs,” he adds. “If an extra hour becomes more expensive, some employers are gonna wanna hire more people.”

This is all likely to raise costs for companies, which is why business advocates aren’t happy.

A change like this does not require approval from Congress, but it’s not a done deal yet. It’ll be open for public comment and could take several months to finalize.

Mark Garrison: Right now, employees with a salary just under $24-thousand dollars can be considered management and barred from time and a half pay. The rule change from the Obama administration would raise the bar to a little over 50-grand. And it'll move in the future to keep pace with inflation.

Dan Hamermesh: I don’t think this is a huge thing. I think it’s beneficial. I don’t think the effects will be very large.

University of Texas economics professor Dan Hamermesh says many workers will either get a small bump in take home pay or have slightly shorter hours for the same salary.

Dan Hamermesh: It will also, I’m pretty sure, create jobs, because if an extra hour becomes more expensive, some employers are gonna wanna hire more people.

This is all likely to raise costs for companies, which is why business advocates aren’t happy. A change like this does not require approval from Congress, but it’s not a done deal yet. It’ll be open for public comment and could take several months to finalize. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

PODCAST: Greek credit cards

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-30 03:00

Greece and the faulty assumption that everyone has access to a credit card. We'll check in on how Greek citizens are handling the banks being shutdown there. Plus, the Export-Import Bank’s charter expires at midnight Wednesday: we look at how this leaves it in an awkward state of limbo. And Apple's new music streaming service launches today. We'll talk about what to expect.



PODCAST: Cameras in the workplace

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-30 03:00

With the Greek public being asked to vote on Sunday to approve or reject the terms of the EU's latest financial bailout, the immediate question is how to keep the economy going between now and then. More on that. Plus, we'll talk about the case before the Supreme Court involving Environmental Protection Agency regulations of power plant emissions. And Police departments all over the country are frantically ordering body-cams and dash-cams for their patrol officers these days. But those little cameras are also spreading into a lot of workplaces that have absolutely nothing to do with the police.

Ex-Im Bank, to reauthorize or not to reauthorize

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-30 02:00

The controversial Export-Import Bank’s authorization will expire at the stroke of midnight Wednesday, meaning the government institution that finances exports made by American companies, among other things, can follow through on its existing loans and guarantees, but can’t fund new ones.

The bank has long been targeted by some Republicans who don’t believe the government should be involved in this market and that the bank only benefits large corporations.

Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, says the bank amounts to corporate welfare and sees opportunity in Wednesday’s expiration.

“It’s one thing to reauthorize it,” he says, noting the bank has been reauthorized numerous times during its eight-decade existence. “It’s another thing to restart it once it’s already expired.”

Supporters of the Ex-Im Bank, meanwhile, argue it fills a gap in the private lending market for companies of all sizes and that the uncertainty leading up to Wednesday’s expiration has already hurt American businesses.

"Symbolically, [the expiration] is hugely important," says Edward Alden, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations. "I do think contracts will be lost, though it's hard to put a clear number on it."

“The winner here is China and other countries that are going full steam ahead with their own export credit agencies and taking advantage of the opportunity to see Ex-Im lapse,” says Miriam Sapiro, principal at the consulting firm Summit Strategies and a former deputy U.S. trade representative.

Sapiro’s hoping Congress will reauthorize the bank when it’s back in session in July.

Lessons from Cyprus on handling debt crisis

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-30 02:00

Banks are rationing cash, European creditors are closing in — Sounds like the current situation in Greece. But that was Cyprus, two years ago.

Even though their economies are different, Greece could learn some lessons from Cyprus.

Lesson one? Staying with the euro doesn’t mean a trip down easy street. Cyprus still struggles with high unemployment.

Lesson two? Listen to creditors, like the IMF.

“Cooperating with the IMF paid off for Cyprus because, after two years they’re on the road to recovery,” says Charles Movit, an economist at IHS covering Cyprus.

“I don’t think so at all,” says Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He says Cyprus is still in bad shape.

“A lot of people have suffered," he says. "They’re still unemployed. A lot of businesses went bankrupt.”

But Weisbrot and Movit agree on lesson three: limits on how much money can be sent abroad or taken out of a bank can help keep cash where it’s needed. 



Flagship Westgate Mall reopens in Kenya

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-30 02:00

The upscale Nairobi mall attacked by terrorists in 2013 plans a partial reopening on Wednesday. At least 67 people died when Al Shabaab, an African offshoot of Al Qaeda, attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall.

The siege was a blow to the heart of Nairobi’s prosperity, where malls serve espresso and hummus. New roads, and ever present construction cranes show Kenya’s continued rise. It’s become an economic hub of East Africa, but fears of terrorism have hurt business and scared away some foreign tourists.

The reopening of Westgate, many say, is a conscious decision to defy the terrorists. Others see it as callous.

“The fact that they want to reopen Westgate mall is a bit demeaning. It really is,” says Sadia Ahmed, who, until recently, was a radio host on East FM, a Kenyan radio station popular with the region’s Asian population.

On September 21, 2013, she was recording a cooking segment on Westgate’s roof.

“Two explosions went off, and that’s when we saw people run out of the mall and onto the rooftop,” Ahmed remembers. She spent hours running and crouching amid grenades and gunshots. She'd rather the mall become a memorial park. That's what became of the American Embassy attacked in Nairobi in 1998. 

Just weeks ago, you could still see bullet holes in Westgate's windows. Outside, there were ghostly outlines on the walls where there had once been shop signs. Then, almost overnight, the building received a fresh coat of paint. Contractors hammered as new signs went up. Westgate has the same name and logo as before the attack.
There will be a different color scheme inside the mall when it reopens, and some shops won’t return, but it will mostly look the same.

“It’s a sort of reaffirmation to citizens that look, we are resilient,” says Peter Alingo, who directs the Institute for Security Studies in Kenya. He welcomes the mall’s return, but worries poor levels of security across Nairobi are unchanged.

When mall security guards check people out with metal detectors, it’s more a matter of performance than prevention. When Alingo goes to park his car, he’s taken to asking the guards what they’re looking for in his trunk.

“They say to me they’re looking for anything that looks weird, that has some wires on it,” he says. “And, I said ‘what the heck is this? And, how are you going to deal with it once you see it?’ They have no idea.”

One guard told him, if he sees a bomb, he’ll just run for his life.
People living in the upscale neighborhood near Westgate are cautiously awaiting the mall’s return. Some say it’ll be strange at first. Resident Jyoti Dadhley says she’ll certainly shop there again, “but it will be just for what I need to and get the hell out.”

But Sadia Ahmed just wants to see the inside of the mall to remember.

“I will go back. Once. Just for closure. But I will never step into mall to have a good time. Ever,” she says.



I'm leaving on a (garbage-fueled) jet plane

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-30 01:41
1 second

That's how much time will be added to the world clock on Tuesday. What may seem like an insignificant amount of time actually has big implications for trading around the world. Take a look at our explainer on how the 'leap second' will be applied to the global market.

26 million

At least that many Facebook users have put their profile picture through a rainbow filter in celebration of Pride month and last week's Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The company its not running a study related to the photo tool, but the Atlantic points out Facebook has previously examined the way users can influence each other with the 'I Voted" button, profile picture changes and other instances of what's sometimes called "slacktivism."

$50,440 a year

That's the amount proposed by President Barack Obama as the new earning threshold for workers qualifying for overtime pay. The current ceiling is $23,660 a year. The White House says as many as 5 million workers will benefit from the rule change in the short term. But as the New York Times reports, some economists worry that the change will result in employers shortening hours, rather than paying time-and-a-half.


That's how many people used Airbnb to stay in the Marais neighborhood in Paris last summer, more than actually live there. The Wall Street Journal examined how the explosion of bookings on Airbnb have changed Paris, and what kinds of people are staying where. Looking for more Airbnb data? This site gets granular -- down to individual listings -- with several major cities.

$30 million

That's how much United Airlines says it will invest in Fulcrum BioEnergy, a company that effectively turns trash into fuel. As reported by the New York Times, the airlines plans a flight for this summer that will be primarily run on the garbage-sourced fuel. A large part of the motivation to invest in alternative fuels is the pressure on major airlines to reduce carbon emissions.

Congress Leaves For Recess Without Re-Authorizing Export-Import Bank

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-30 00:58

A government agency is about to close. The Export-Import Bank has helped U.S. companies sell goods abroad for decades, but it will likely wind down operations after July 1 if Congress doesn't act.

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Congress Leaves On Recess Without Re-Authorizing Export-Import Bank

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-30 00:58

A government agency is about to close. The Export-Import Bank has helped U.S. companies sell goods abroad for decades, but it will likely wind down operations after July 1 if Congress doesn't act.

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Brazil Tries To Rebuild Relations With U.S. After NSA Spying Scandal

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-30 00:58

Two years ago, President Dilma Rousseff canceled a planned state visit after discovering the U.S. was spying on Brazil. Since that time, her popularity has nosedived, and so too has Brazil's economy.

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Supreme Court Concludes Term With Death Penalty Ruling, Looks Ahead

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-30 00:57

The court wrapped up on Monday, supporting the use of a controversial drug in executions by lethal injection. The justices also set up cases to be heard next term on affirmative action and abortion.

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Would You Buy A Used Car From A Man Named Beer Horse?

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-30 00:56

NPR's Frank Langfitt has been giving free taxi rides around Shanghai to learn about the lives of ordinary Chinese. He's decided to stop renting a car and buy one. That's when he met Beer Horse.

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Making The Law Respect Gender Identity After Death

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-30 00:50

After filmmaker Christopher Lee died, his death certificate listed him as "female." His friends helped to change the way California law handles the death certificates of transgender people.

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Puerto Rico's Governor Wants Lenders To Wait For More Than $73 Billion Debt Payments

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-29 19:46

In a televised address, the governor said he'll ask international creditors to give Puerto Rico easier terms, starting with a delay in payments. He also warned his people of coming budget cuts.

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President Pitches Overtime Rule That Could Raise Wages For 5 Million

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-29 18:20

The regulation, which retailers and restaurants likely will fight, would mean that all employees earning up to $50,440 a year would be guaranteed overtime pay, up from a the current cap of $23,660.

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Conversations about mobility, live from Aspen

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-29 15:08

Monday's Marketplace was broadcast live from the Belly Up in Aspen, Colorado, and the Aspen Ideas Festival. We took a break from the usual Marketplace format for a series of conversations all around one theme: mobility and the economy.

Economic mobility (or lack thereof) in Greece (starts at 01:10)

First things first: we had to talk about Greece. The European Central Bank froze funding to Greek banks. As the latest deadline for the country looms over its creditors and citizens, tensions are understandably high.

Some business owners, like gourmet sandwich shop owner Nick Voglis, have voiced their concerns.

"They implemented capital control here in Athens, and people started getting a little worried," Voglis told our reporter. "They have panicked a little bit."

To help better understand the current situation, Kai Ryssdal spoke to David Leonhardt, managing editor for The Upshot from The New York Times.

Mobility in education (starts at 6:15)

Next up, Knewton CEO Jose Ferreira and Veniam CEO Robin Chase, who chatted with us about the intersection of technology and education. The ever growing number of technology platforms makes it easier for people to use data. As a consequence, this makes it easier for students all over the world to expand their opportunities.

The bottom line when it comes to education and technology: “Get on board, or get left behind.”

Mobile content (starts at 14:55)

Netflix has revolutionized the way television content is distributed and consumed. Ted Sarandos, the company's chief content officer, says that he doesn't care how people watch the content of the service, even if it means watching "Lawrence of Arabia" on an iPhone.

"We just want you to have the best experience possible," Sarandos says. "For some, that experience is defined by convenience and watching a movie on your iPad. Or it's defined by wanting to see it on your big TV in 4K."

Brand mobility (starts at 20:12)

Among the leaders and thinkers at the Aspen Ideas Festival were some unexpected guests. Entrepreneur and two-time world champion skier Chris Davenport talked with us about what it takes to change your brand when you’re an athlete.

First things first, why does anyone choose to hike up dangerous mountains and ski down them? Chris says, “because it’s there.”

As of now, Chris is an athlete. But someday he’ll have to make the transition away from that. Of course, whether it’s a physical risk or a reputation-based risk, being brand mobile can be tricky. Chris says one of the keys to keeping himself on the right track is that he “can’t be afraid to fail.”

He says, “I’m out there putting one foot in front of the other … always have to be willing and able to turn around and find another way.… In my business, there has to be another day, I can’t afford to risk it all.” 

California Legislature Passes 'Mandatory' Vaccine Bill, Sends It To The Governor

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-29 14:53

Children who have specific medical problems, like immune system deficiencies, would be exempt from vaccinations as long as they have confirmation from their doctor.

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Apple Bets Big That You'll Start Paying To Stream Music

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-29 14:32

Millions listen to services like Spotify and Pandora, but relatively few of them subscribe. Why should they when there are so many free options? The new Apple Music will only be free for 3 months.

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Greeks Brace For The Fallout As Deadline Looms

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-29 13:52

Greeks have lurched from one crisis to another in recent years and have learned to cope with uncertainty. Still, many are worried about what could happen when Greece misses a payment Tuesday.

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