National News

How to hide a corporate jet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-17 13:09

In March 2014, Jos. A. Bank, the men’s apparel retailer known for its big sales and splashy advertisements, was bought by its competitor Men’s Wearhouse for $65 a share.

But it turns out Jos. A. Bank didn’t advertise all of its merchandise. Jos. A. Bank leases a Dassault Falcon 2000EX – a $24 million private plane that does not show up on any of the company’s financial statements.

"I thought 'If a company had a jet, it would show up somewhere,'" says Bethany McLean, Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair. "But as it turns out, it’s quite common that it doesn’t, and quite legal. Although, you could ask questions about whether this is following the letter of the law and violating the spirit of the law."

How does a company get away with leasing a private jet and not entering it on their records?

"This is possible because of a company’s so-called ‘perks’ or extra compensation," says McLean. "They only have to be disclosed when they’re personal use."

Jos. A. Bank says the jet is used 100 percent for business; therefore, it doesn’t have to be disclosed as executive’s compensation. The company is headquartered in Maryland, but the jet is hangered in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the former CEO Richard Wildrick lives.

If Wildrick uses the jet for his commute to and from Jos. A. Bank headquarters, then it’s considered personal use, right?

 "It would be," says McLean. "But the company very smartly set up a little office in Palm Beach, so therefore the office to office travel is business use and doesn’t have to be disclosed."

Suspect's Capture Doesn't Arrest Benghazi Suspicions

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 13:06

The capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a key suspect in the deadly 2012 Benghazi attack, did little to change the political polarity of the event.

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Hubble To Search For Last Stop On Pluto Probe's Itinerary

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:59

Before NASA's New Horizons probe visits Pluto next year, scientists hope they can find another "icy body" at the edge of the solar system for a final flyby.

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India's Transgender Community Turns Seat Belt Safety Into Video Hit

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:57

India's transgender community is on a roll. Known as hijras, they recently won court recognition as part of a third gender. Now they're starring in a popular video urging drivers to buckle up.

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Lightning-Fast Trades Go Beneath The Congressional Microscope

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is holding a hearing on problems in the financial markets caused by high-frequency trading firms.

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Will The Trouble In Iraq Draw U.S. And Iran Closer Together?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

Thomas Erdbink of The New York Times talks to Robert Siegel about the possibility that the U.S. and Iran will cooperate in response to Iraq's unrest.

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White House Plans To Mark Off World's Largest Ocean Sanctuary

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

The White House is announcing the creation of the world's largest marine sanctuary. The plan would make large sections of the Pacific Ocean off limits to fishing and energy exploration. The boundaries will be set after the White House consults with fishermen, scientists and other stakeholders

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U.S. Commandos Catch Alleged Leader Of Benghazi Attack

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

U.S. special operations forces have captured one of the men suspected of playing a key role in the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi. Ahmed Abu Khatallah has been associated with one of the militias involved in the attack that killed four Americans. Currently being held outside Libya, he will face trial in a U.S. federal court.

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Settlement Brings An Early End To Apple's Price-Fixing Case

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

Apple has reached an out-of-court settlement with states' attorneys general and a number of other complainants over e-book price fixing. Apple had been facing some $800 million in damages.

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Philly Schools Teeter On Brink Of Layoffs, Struggling For Funding

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

Philadelphia's school district once again needs tens of millions of dollars to avoid layoffs. With just a few weeks left before the district approves a new budget, school leaders are asking the city, the state and labor unions for help filling a $96 million budget hole.

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Between Two Tales, Kenyans Seek Answers For Latest Attacks

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

In Kenya, two recent terror attacks have killed more than 60 people. The Islamist militant group al-Shabab is claiming responsibility, but the Kenyan president is laying blame with local leaders. Kate Linthicum of The Los Angeles Times is in Nairobi, and she offers more details on the attacks and the aftermath.

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The Shape Of Extremist Ambitions In Iraq And Beyond

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

Deborah Amos, author of Eclipse of the Sunnis, talks about the extremist vision for establishing a new Sunni caliphate, as well as what it might look like if a group like ISIS managed to do so.

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As Isis Strengthens Hold In Northern Iraq, Violent Reprisals Begin

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

Sectarian violence continues to escalate in Iraq. The militant group ISIS is maintaining its gains in the northern regions, and suspected Shiite reprisals have dozens in the city of Baaqouba.

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Your Brain's Got Rhythm, And Syncs When You Think

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

Scientists have evidence that beats in the brain — in the form of rhythmic electrical pulses — are involved in everything from memory to motion. And music can help when those rhythms go wrong.

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The Would-be Ambassador To Norway, Who's Never Been There Himself

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

President Obama nominated George Tsunis to the post of ambassador to Norway. But after a cringe-worthy confirmation hearing, Norwegian-Americans are aiming to block him as unqualified for the post.

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Study Delivers Failing Grades For Many Programs Training Teachers

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

The NCTQ study is the second in two years that argues that schools of education are in disarray.

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'Pink Slime' Is Making A Comeback. Do You Have A Beef With That?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 12:06

Since beef prices are going up, food processors are once again looking to cheap "lean finely-textured beef." But this time, they're preparing for consumers' concerns about the so-called pink slime.

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Most Cuban-Americans Oppose Embargo, Poll Finds

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 11:59

The Florida International University poll, conducted since 1991, also showed a large majority want to reestablish diplomatic ties with the island.

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Foreign banks ask China: Where's our copper?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-17 11:24

As if confidence in China’s cooling economy wasn’t bad enough, big foreign banks are now worried they’ve fallen victim to an elaborate commodities scam.

When a U.S. bank decides on whether to give you a business loan, it looks at things like profitability and future cash flow. In China, banks focus on one thing: collateral.

"So that means you have something valuable and you give it to the bank provisionally, and they can take it if you don’t pay back your loan," says J-Capital’s Anne Stevenson-Yang.

Chinese companies often use things like copper or aluminum as collateral. It’s helped secure $160 billion worth of loans in the past few years. But in the Chinese port of Qingdao recently: a discovery of commodities-backed loan shenanigans.

"People found out that the same batch of copper had been taken to more than one bank to take out a loan," says Sijin Chen, commodities analyst for Barclays.

Chen says China’s government has tried to clean up this practice in the past, but "these government-driven initiatives are never going to be successful if the banks don’t think it’s a risky business."

They do now.

Foreign banks like Standard Chartered and Citigroup have sent their people to Qingdao to see if these warehouses of copper actually exist. So far, the government is too busy with an investigation to let them check. Stevenson-Yang says this fake-commodities scam is just the latest problem for China’s economy.

"China is deflating and everybody’s running around trying to make their particular asset valuable or shore up their particular loan, but the fact is it’s like taking your kickboard and holding it up against a tsunami."

Her message to foreign banks in China: You’re going to need more than a kickboard.

Pipeline Explosion In Ukraine Could Be 'Act Of Terrorism'

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-17 11:12

A section of the main conduit for Russian natural gas going to Europe exploded and caught fire on Tuesday, a day after Moscow and Kiev failed to reach a deal on gas payments.

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