National News

When oil prices fall, Big Oil has an advantage

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 11:11

It's not that big oil companies love low oil prices, but a part of them doesn't mind. Companies like Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron — which report earnings over the next few days — aren't just producers selling crude oil. They're also refiners, buying crude and selling gasoline. When crude prices drop, that's good for the refinery side of the business. 

The big producers have another big advantage: long-term planning. "They're always looking at least 10 to 20 years down the road, so they're not a quarter-to-quarter type company," says James Sweeney, a Stanford University professor who studies energy policy.

On the other hand, thousands of smaller producers borrowed money to finance their drilling. Low oil prices are likely putting some of them "in bankruptcy mode," says David Bellman of All Energy Consulting.

A Saint With A Mixed History: Junipero Serra's Canonization Raises Eyebrows

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 10:49

Pope Francis announced he will elevate the influential missionary to sainthood when he visits Washington, D.C. But Native American groups say Father Serra was far from saintly.

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India Grows, Russia Shrinks: Mapping Countries By Population

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 10:33

A cartogram posted on Reddit shows what the world looks like if you scale countries by their population. Watch out China! India is catching up with you.

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How to shop for a hospital

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 10:12

More than 70 percent of hospitals will pay fines this year for such infractions as having too many hospital-acquired infections, too many patient re-admissions – or high mortality rates.

While many companies are jumping into the hospital ratings business, consumers are still looking for a reliable way to shop for hospitals. Here are several sources consumers can consider.

To check out hospital safety:

Hospitalsafetyscore.org

Hospital compare

Health Grades

Leapfrog

To make price comparisons (more sources should be available through your health plan):

Fair Health

Health Care Blue Book

China Continues To Push The (Fake) Envelope

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 09:34

A fake bank in Nanjing bilked customers out of nearly $33 million. With trappings of a real bank, like security guards and LED screens, the bank fooled depositors attracted by higher interest rates.

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'We Are the World' turns 30

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 09:19

Jan. 28, 2015, marks the 30th anniversary of the recording of "We Are the World," a fundraising single that raised tens of millions for African relief and helped usher in an era of all-star recordings and concerts that benefit charity.

The musicians performed as USA for Africa, recording a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. Famous names in the studio session included Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Tina Turner, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. The project was promoted by producer Quincy Jones, singer Harry Belafonte and fundraiser Ken Kragen.

"We Are the World" was inspired by "Do They Know It's Christmas?" – a 1984 recording to benefit charity by another supergroup, Band Aid. That project was driven by Bob Geldof, the Irish singer-songwriter and activist. The "We are the World" single, released March 7, 1985, and related Live Aid concerts that followed in July of the same year helped spur other releases and concerts over the next several decades that benefited charity.

Many consider the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, headlined by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to be the first modern benefit concert.

"We Are the World" was a hit – both as a single and as a fundraising device. It is reportedly one of fewer than 30 singles that have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. The song, and associated merchandise, eventually raised more than $60 million for African aid, initially aimed at victims of a devastating famine on the continent in the mid-1980s.

Other music-based charity fundraisers that followed this early effort include Farm Aid (1985), "America: A Tribute to Heroes" (2001), Live 8 (2005), Live Earth (2007), "We Are the World 25 for Haiti" (2010) and the Concert for Sandy Relief (2012).

How long can Apple depend on iPhone sales?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 09:07

Apple had a very good quarter — make that a great quarter. The company announced it made $18 billion in profit for the first quarter of its fiscal year, ending in December. Much of that profit was thanks to the popularity of the iPhone, especially in China, where iPhone sales doubled year over year.

But does that strength belie a potential weakness?

“The iPhone 6 was a great success, but how long can it last and what’s going to be the follow up?” asks Michael Obuchowski, an Apple shareholder and the portfolio manager of Concert Wealth Management. Even though earnings this quarter were strong, Obuchowski says it worries him that 70 percent of revenues were driven by a single product line: iPhones.

Companies that generate most of their sales from one product can be risky, says J.P. Eggers, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business. But he thinks Apple’s narrow focus is a source of strength for the company, as it can improve innovation and result in better, higher quality products.

Ramon Llamas, research manager for  IDC’s wearable and mobile phones programs, cautions betting against Apple, noting the company's long history of success in product development. 

Two Israeli Soldiers Killed In Attack Near Lebanese Border

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 08:38

Hezbollah took responsibility for the attack and Israel returned fire, in one of the most serious flare ups of a long-running confrontation.

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Inside the migration of the Maytag factory

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 08:20

In 2002, people in the town of Galesburg, Illinois, found out they would lose their massive Maytag factory. Employees who had worked at the plant for decades were suddenly jobless. When the plant closed, it was such a shock to the town that, in 2004, then-senatorial candidate Barack Obama mentioned it in an address at the Democratic National Convention.  

Author Chad Broughton's new book "Boom, Bust, Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities" takes a personal look at what happened when Maytag left Galesburg and reopened in Reynosa, Mexico.

"I played basketball with the manager at the Maytag factory ... everybody in town it seemed was connected to that factory," Broughton says.

Plant workers who had worked in the factory for decades were out of a job, left to find work outside of the only industry they knew. Many Galesburg residents were angered by Maytag's decision to leave town.

"They were very nationalistic, very patriotic," Broughton says. "They thought that this was a profoundly unpatriotic thing to do ... by this very American company, by this quintessentially American company, Maytag."

When Maytag relocated to Reynosa, Mexico, the company went from paying American workers $15.14 an hour, to paying Mexican workers $1.10 an hour - workers like Laura Flora, who found herself with few employment options.

"She ended up kind of stuck there," Broughton says. "So she had to do what she had to do, which was work in these abundant low-skilled jobs, in the maquiladoras," the assembly plants in Mexico.

But the factory Flora worked in wouldn't last either. When Whirlpool bought Maytag, they moved the factory yet again, farther south, Broughton says.

In doing his research, Broughton says he's taken several walks through the now-decaying Maytag factory in Galesburg.

"It's so big still, even though only one third of it still stands," Broughton says. "When it was still entirely there, it took more than a mile to walk from one end to the other...."

The dilapidated plant, Broughton say, "feels hollow now."

Read an excerpt from the book here:

Boom, Bust, Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities

Inside the migration of the Maytag factory

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 08:20
In 2002, the town of Galesburg, Illinois, lost its massive Maytag factory. Employees who had worked at the plant for decades were suddenly jobless. When the plant closed, it was such a shock to the town that, in 2004, then-senatorial candidate Barack Obama mentioned it in an address at the Democratic National Convention.  

Author Chad Broughton's new book "Boom, Bust, Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities" takes a personal look at what happened when Maytag left Galesburg and reopened in Reynosa, Mexico.

"I played basketball with the manager at the Maytag factory ... everybody in town it seemed was connected to that factory," Broughton says.

Plant workers who had worked in the factory for decades were out of a job, left to find work outside of the only industry they knew. Many Galesburg residents were angered by Maytag's decision to leave town.

"They were very nationalistic, very patriotic," Broughton says. "They thought that this was a profoundly unpatriotic thing to do ... by this very American company, by this quintessentially American company, Maytag."

When Maytag relocated to Reynosa, Mexico, the company went from paying American workers $15.14 an hour, to paying Mexican workers $1.10 an hour - workers like Laura Flora, who found herself stranded in Mexico. 

"She ended up kind of stuck there," Broughton says. "So she had to do what she had to do, which was work in these abundant low-skilled jobs, in the maquiladoras," the assembly plants in Mexico.

But the factory Flora worked in wouldn't last either. When Whirlpool bought Maytag, they moved the factory yet again, farther south, Broughton says.

In doing his research, Broughton says he's taken several walks through the now-decaying Maytag factory in Galesburg.

"It's so big still, even though only one third of it still stands," Broughton says. "When it was still entirely there, it took more than a mile to walk from one end to the other...."

The dilapidated plant, Broughton say, "feels hollow now."

Read an excerpt from the book here:

Boom, Bust, Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities

Is It OK To Pay Pregnant Women To Stop Smoking?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 08:02

It's notoriously hard to get people to quit smoking. Pregnant women in Scotland were more apt to stop smoking if they got $600 in gift cards. But are those kinds of payments ethical?

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Quiz: Universities take a pass on sexual-assault survey

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 07:30

More than half the members in The Association of American Universities will not participate in its national survey on campus sexual assault.

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Judge Throws Out Friendship Nine's Civil Rights-Era Conviction

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 07:30

The nine men integrated a whites-only lunch counter in Rock Hill, S.C., in 1961, and refused to pay a fine. Their "Jail, no bail" strategy became a rallying cry against Jim Crow.

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Why Dump Treated Wastewater When You Could Make Beer With It?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 07:06

An Oregon company has developed a high-tech process for turning sewage into pure drinking water. Now it's asking the state for permission to give its recycled water to a group of home brewers.

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Mr. Taxi Driver, You Are GOING TOO FAST!!!!

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 06:57

Kenya's passenger vans have a reputation for getting into deadly crashes. A new campaign has cut the accident rate with a simple intervention: Stickers that urge riders to speak up!

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Smithsonian In Talks Over London Outpost — Its First Overseas

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 05:57

If negotiations are successful, the Smithsonian would join other attractions at the site of London's Olympic Park.

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Mexico Officially Declares 43 Missing Students Dead

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 05:49

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said the events of Ayotzinapa "forces the country to change" toward a "just and free Mexico."

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Jordan Says It's Willing To Swap Prisoner For Hostages Held By ISIS

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 03:58

A video released by the Islamic militants demanded the release of the convicted terrorist within 24 hours, or two hostages — a Jordanian military pilot and a Japanese journalist — would be killed.

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As Nor'Easter Lifts, Life Slowly Gets Back To Normal In Hard-Hit Areas

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-28 03:05

In Boston, highways started filling up with cars. In Rhode Island, the governor called up 270 national guardsmen to help get the power back on. In New York, the subway resumed regular service.

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PODCAST: Resources are few for homeless youth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-01-28 03:00

Three magic money making words: "It's Harvard calling." The ivy league school raised more money last year than any U.S. college ever. But they're not the only ones seeing booms in donations. Plus, there's more money on the way at Yahoo once it transfers ownership of its remaining stake in Alibaba. So what's next for the company? And the next time you're reading a magazine, the article you're perusing could very well be an ad. More on that. Also on the program, we'll talk about how the number of homeless children in the U.S. has grown to an all-time high, but the number of resources allocated to help them has not.

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