National News

On pins and needles for the next words from the Fed

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-15 02:00

Federal Reserve watchers are obsessed with two words right now: “considerable time.” 

That’s how long the Fed says it'll hold interest rates near zero after next month, when it stops pumping money into the economy by buying bonds.    

The Fed holds a meeting this week. Now, everybody's wondering, what’s next? An immediate increase in interest rates?

“No,” says Jonathan Lewis, chief investment officer of Samson Capital Advisors. “I would say the economy has strengthened and so therefore that’s why they might change their language. They’ve got good reason to change the language. But not good reason to act.”

OK, so what does the Fed say after its meeting? It has to pick its words carefully. 

“So, this is the trick that they really have to pull off," says Kevin Logan, chief US economist at HSBC Bank. "How to change their language without creating the impression that they’re likely to raise rates sooner.”

Because no one expects an interest rate hike until the middle of next year.

Any words to the contrary from the Fed would spook the financial markets, and nobody wants that. 

Covering Up With The Hijab May Aid Women's Body Image

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-15 02:00

A few studies have found that modest clothing is connected with a healthier body image. So a British psychologist looked at whether the hijab protected women against the pressure to be thin.

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Vinyl record sales have jumped to 6 million

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-15 02:00

If you think the debate over digital or analog has long been answered, then you probably have not stepped into an independent record store such as Dusty Groove in Chicago. 

It is one of the nation’s top independent sellers of vinyl records, which have experienced a sales boom in the last seven years — going from 1 million to 6 million sales in 2013. This year, vinyl is likely to surpass last year’s total. 


Nova Safo

Of course, vinyl sales are still dwarfed by digital downloads. Nielsen SoundScan, which measures point-of-sale of recorded music product, says there were almost 50 billion video and audio streaming downloads in 2013. But vinyl’s resurgence has been dramatic enough in an industry of dwindling sales that record companies have begun to pay attention and, for the first time since the invention of the CD, to increase the number of titles they release on vinyl. 

“What’s great about the vinyl revival is seeing a generation that I think the music industry had written off 10 years ago as people that were only going to download and maybe only steal, seeing these people become very active, aggressive consumers of a physical item,” says Rick Wojcik, the owner of Dusty Groove. 

Wojcik has been in the vinyl business for almost 20 years, having opened his store first as an online operation and then adding a physical store to appease customers who would show up at his address only to be disappointed by the lack of a physical retail space. 

And that, Wojcik says, is the story of Chicago, a place where vinyl never lost its appeal and where more than 30 record stores cater to vinyl enthusiasts. 

“Our vinyl sales were always high, and they haven’t spiked, because we cared about vinyl,” Wojcik says. “What has happened in recent years is that this sort of activity is now taking place on a playing field that’s being recognized in the larger business community, by the record industry itself.”

Even outside of the music industry, there is now a jumping on board of the vinyl bandwagon. Urban Outfitters is now one of the nation’s largest vinyl record stores. Even the supermarket company Whole Foods has begun carrying vinyl records is certain markets. 

Wojcik is cautiously optimistic, but he says there is a danger in the recent vinyl book for the smaller independent stores that had up to this point differentiated themselves (and stayed in business) thanks to their vinyl offerings. 

Nova Safo

“I know that a lot of stores that are small and struggling, like most record stores are always kinda dancing on a razor’s edge of finances, are really worried that they’re going to be overstuffed with vinyl, because the amount of production has just expanded greatly in 2014,” Wojcik says. 

Much of the sales boom has been driven by people like Lindon McCarty, 27, who was shopping for a record at Dusty Groove. For him and his group of friends, the appeal of vinyl is obvious. 

“It sounds clearer to me. It sounds like, close your eyes, and you’re in the actual room that it was recorded in,” McCarty says, adding that he is a musician and his friends are all “music snobs.” 

Wojcik says in addition to the sound and the large album covers that CDs and MP3s can’t duplicate, vinyl — when holding original prints — offers a chance to have a piece of history. 

“It’s like reading a hardcover book versus a paperback book, or an ebook” Wojcik says. 

Yes, but does vinyl actually sound better? Wojcik gave a comparison demonstration to prove that it does. The results are in the web-extra audio clip on this page. 

I’ll give you a hint: I went into the demonstration thinking one thing, and left thinking another. 

The Streets Are Empty As The Shells Keep Falling In Eastern Ukraine

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-15 00:52

The precarious cease-fire is in danger of collapse after repeated violations by both sides. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley traveled through Donetsk as the shelling spread through residential neighborhoods.

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Hillary Clinton Keeps Iowa Crowd Guessing About Her Presidential Plans

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-15 00:52

Clinton, who says she hasn't yet decided on a 2016 presidential run, was in Iowa Sunday for the first time since she lost the 2008 caucuses to Barack Obama. She attended Sen. Tom Harkin's steak fry.

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Millions Of Americans' Wages Seized Over Credit Card And Medical Debt

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-15 00:52

One in 10 working Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 is getting his or her pay docked for not paying debts. And in most states, the law allows a quarter of wages to be withheld.

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Philip Morris Sues Uruguay Over Graphic Cigarette Packaging

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-15 00:35

The country requires photos of decaying teeth and gruesome hospital scenes on every pack. Philip Morris sees this as a violation of a trade agreement and is suing Uruguay for $25 million.

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Creating Your Baby's Last Name? Tennessee Says No

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-15 00:32

A Tennessee family invented a new surname for their kids, completely different from their own, and discovered that their state's law bars them from doing that.

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Patients Vulnerable When Cash-Strapped Scientists Cut Corners

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-15 00:31

A shrinking pool of grant money for medical research has led competing applicants to oversell weak scientific findings, critics say. The result: Many experimental treatments are worthless.

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Q&A: Why Teaching Music Matters

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 19:09

From homeless parent to Ph.D., Margaret Martin has always believed in the power of music. She founded Harmony Project, which puts instruments into the hands of kids from L.A.'s toughest neighborhoods.

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Clintons Return To Iowa To Rally Democratic Hopefuls

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 13:08

The Clintons are back in Iowa at an event that is the place to see and be seen for ambitious Democrats. NPR's Arun Rath talks with national political correspondent Don Gonyea.

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Tensions In Ukraine Increase As Cease-Fire Appears To Have Dissolved

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 13:08

A week-old ceasefire in eastern Ukraine has all but broken down. Shelling that was previously constrained to the airport in Donetsk reached the city over the weekend.

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Continued Killings Could Bolster Need For Action Against ISIS

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 13:08

The killing of British aid worker David Haines by the self-proclaimed Islamic State provoked international outrage and could bolster U.S. efforts to build support for an anti-ISIS coalition.

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U.S. Says Allies In Middle East And Elsewhere Want To Help Fight ISIS

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 12:54

On a weekend that saw extremist group the Islamic State release a video showing the murder of a Western hostage, support for a coalition to fight the group is building.

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Thousands Gather In Germany To Rally Against Anti-Semitism

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 12:52

At an event in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel said there is no place for anti-Semitism in Germany and called it a "monstrous scandal" that anyone in the country would be hassled for being Jewish.

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Hannah Storm, A Pro, Fan And Mother, Gives NFL An Earful

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 12:31

A football fan who's also the mother of three daughters, ESPN's Hannah Storm asked some tough questions Sunday that show how hard the week has been for families who follow the NFL.

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Heineken Owners Reportedly Rebuff SABMiller's Purchase Offer

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 10:47

In a move seen as a way to fight off Anheuser-Busch InBev, brewer SABMiller reportedly offered to buy Heineken. The family that controls Heineken rejected the idea, Bloomberg News says.

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Greg Norman Says He's Lucky Not To Have Cut His Hand Off

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 08:42

After a chainsaw accident, Australian golfer Greg Norman posted photos this weekend showing him recovering from the ordeal. Norman had been cutting branches off a tree at his Florida home.

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Bob Marley's 'Legend' Album Finally Cracks Billboard Top 10

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 08:02

While the 30-year-old album has sold millions of copies over the years, it only reached No. 54 when it was released. The new spike comes courtesy of a steep price cut.

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Cameron Condemns Execution Of British Aid Worker By ISIS

NPR News - Sun, 2014-09-14 07:54

The Islamic State militant group released a video showing the execution of British aid worker David Haines. NPR's Lynn Neary talks with the BBC's Gordon Corera about the reaction in the U.K.

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