National / International News

Teva agrees to buy Allergan for $40 billion

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-07-27 03:00

The world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, Teva, has bagged some big game.

Monday morning, the company announced that it has agreed to buy Allergan’s generic business for a little more than $40 billion.

If approved, the deal places Teva amongst the largest drug companies on the planet.

With just one purchase, the company could bring in new revenue, fend off competition from China and India, and gain even more pull in this $70 billion a year business, says Elizabeth Krutoholow, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.

“It’s just a matter of being able to throw around your power in pricing," she says. "So you are trying to get your drugs into the pharmacy. If you have more things in your bag that you can play around with, you certainly have greater leverage there.”

Whether this deal would ratchet up prices depends on how many drugs in Teva’s bag are in direct competition with the one’s in Allegran’s bag, says Yale economist Fiona Scott Morton.

“We really care about the overlaps of these firms. If there is a lot, then there is potential for higher prices when they merge. So ... the regulator needs to go out and look at where these guys overlap,” she says.

While there are a lot of tie ups in healthcare these days, Morton says generics are a different game.

Unlike health insurance, for example, it’s easier to get into generics, making it more likely the small guys will be able to grow and keep competition more robust.

PODCAST: Biting the hand that feeds you burritos

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-07-27 03:00

More on news that Fiat Chrysler will offer to buyback hundreds of thousands of Ram Pickup trucks. Plus, what to expect to from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee briefing on Wednesday. And thousands  of workers in lawsuits in several states allege Chipotle’s “moral high-ground” doesn’t extend to its cooks, cashiers and managers. The cases against Chipotle are part of a national trend of workers turning to federal courts to recoup wages.

Republicans Stand Against Cuba Change Despite Public Opinion Shift

NPR News - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:51

Americans views of the Cuba embargo have reversed in the last 20 years. But Republicans are standing firmly against President Obama's policy change to open up relations with the island nation.

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Bobbi Kristina Brown, 22-Year-Old Daughter Of Whitney Houston, Dies

NPR News - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:40

Brown, who grew up in the shadow of fame and dysfunction, had spent six months at a hospital after being found unresponsive in a bathtub at her home.

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Syria Kurds condemn 'Turkey attacks'

BBC - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:19
Kurdish forces in Syria accuse Turkey of repeatedly attacking their positions, but Ankara says the units are not targeted by its military.

French farmers block border roads

BBC - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:18
French farmers stop lorries importing farm produce from Germany and Spain, in a border protest over alleged unfair price competition.

VIDEO: Obama in Ethiopia: News briefing

BBC - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:12
US President Barack Obama is holding a joint news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as he continues his tour of East Africa.

Litvinenko suspect will not testify

BBC - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:06
A key suspect in an inquiry in London into the death of the former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko tells the BBC he will not give evidence.

Major Flaw In Android Phones Would Let Hackers In With Just A Text

NPR News - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:01

A severe flaw in Android, the world's most popular smartphone operating system, would let hackers take over with just a text message.

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Underwater homeowners look for mortgage relief

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

JoAnn Henderson is the kind of person who greets strangers with a big hug. I met her in the kitchen of her home in New Carrollton, Maryland.   

Henderson bought her house in 2001. She refinanced a few years later, for a higher amount. Shortly before she retired from her teaching job, she started having trouble with the steep payments.

“You would miss a couple and then you’d pay and pay and pay," she says. "And then you’d miss a couple more. Yeah — I almost lost the house.”

Henderson got a loan modification, which dropped her interest rate to 3 percent. Now, she’s even got a rainy day fund.

“A tiny one," she says, laughing. "Not a big rain. A small rain.”

But what would really help Henderson is if the amount of her loan could be reduced in what’s called a principal reduction. Henderson owes more than $450,000 on her house, which is only worth $212,000, according to Zillow. She's underwater, owing more on her home than it's worth.

“It seems like principal reduction is a logical, no-brainer conclusion,” says Mitria Wilson, vice president of government affairs at the Center for Responsible Lending

Wilson says the improving housing market has cut the number of underwater homeowners from 15 million to 4 million.

“So, the number’s gone down significantly, but here’s the rub," she says. "The people who make up that 4 million disproportionately have lower-priced homes.”

That aren’t likely to appreciate. So those homeowners will stay underwater.

Mel Watt will be making the decision on principal reduction. He’s head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They guarantee many U.S. mortgages.

Watt is caught between homeowner advocates like Wilson, and people like Tim Rood. He's chairman of the Collingwood Group of financial advisers. Rood wonders where the money for principal reduction would come from.

“This money doesn’t come out of thin air," he says. "So, it’s going to have to come from investors or from taxpayers.”

In congressional testimony, Mel Watt has said he’s looking at ways to help borrowers, without hurting Fannie and Freddie.  

   

A kinder, gentler Gawker?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

The digital news and gossip company Gawker Media is expected to relaunch Monday, after a backlash over its handling of a controversial blog post. Two editors resigned in protest last week, after CEO Nick Denton removed a report alleging that a married media executive had tried to hire a gay escort.

Denton has reportedly told his staff the new Gawker will be 10 to 20 percent “nicer.” Analysts say the change reflects a bigger shift underway in digital media, where snark for snark's sake has lost some of its appeal.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Colorado workers sue Chipotle, part of national trend

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

Chipotle recently extended paid sick leave, vacation and tuition reimbursement to its hourly workers.

Still, tens of thousands of employees at Chipotle Mexican Grills around the country are not happy with the Denver-based fast casual poster child over how they are paid. Earlier this month, a court in Los Angeles approved a $2 million settlement with over 38,000 plaintiffs for allegations of unpaid overtime, rest breaks and minimum wage. These Chipotle employees and others in more lawsuits across the country have joined a national workplace trend: filing class-action lawsuits against their employer claiming unfair pay.

Brittany Swa 

Joe Mahoney/Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Brittany Swa started working at a Chipotle in Centennial, Colorado, in 2010 as a crew-member. Swa ran the cashier, grilled meat and served customers at $14.50 an hour plus overtime at time-and-a-half. When she was promoted to apprentice manager a few months later, she expected to get more managerial training, but she said the only difference was making the daily morning bank deposit.

“It takes you like 15 minutes,” she says.

On top of that, she was now averaging 55-60 hours a week, she says, and she was now an exempt employee and couldn’t claim overtime.

“If they needed coverage, you’d be the one to cover, or someone calls in sick or they can’t come in that day, you gotta cover.”

Swa is one of the tens of thousands of plaintiffs in settled and ongoing lawsuits from California to New York suing Chipotle for unpaid wages either because they allege they were misclassified as managers or because they worked off the clock, cleaning the store and attending mandatory meetings.

“Cases of this kind are happening with increasing frequency around the country and are not unique to Chipotle,” company spokesman Chris Arnold says.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, federal lawsuits like this one have more than doubled in the past decade.

“It’s very confusing to figure out how to follow this law,” says Lorrie Ray, an attorney at Mountain States Employers Council.

The federal law was written during the Great Depression. Rules on when to pay overtime, for example, are complicated, and there’s a lot of room for error, Ray says.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys, the employees’ attorneys, became aware that this was sort of lucrative ground for them to cover,” she says. “They started insisting that employers pay their clients for mistakes they’d made under the law.”

There’s another reason, according to Denver University law professor Nantiya Ruan, who is also helping with the apprentice overtime lawsuit against Chipotle. The modern-day workplace is different.

“We expect workers to be on call and working a tremendous amount of hours in a way that we hadn’t been in the '60s and '70s,” she says.

Chipotle has now settled lawsuits with workers in Maryland, California and Florida. In the coming months, wage lawsuits against the company in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas are pending class action certification.

Music-making and dysfunctional technology

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

As part of a series about music technology called "Noise Makers," we're talking to musicians about their favorite noise-making device. For this week's installment we talked with experimental composer Sabisha Friedberg ahead of her performance for the Issue Project Room. 

Sabisha Friedberg's music is planned very carefully. As she puts it, "if something is very well placed and thought out a kind of magic can happen."

Magic and unexpected occurrences are the focal point of her recent double-LP entitled The Haunt Variance. About the record, Friedberg says, "much of it is about things that seem to manifest as apparitions that one doesn't intend. It's the idea of a haunted space and entities that end up coming through the mechanics in the electronic equipment like phantoms that you don't expect."

Click the media player above to hear Sabisha Friedberg talk about working with imperfect technology to make music.

She remembers how this electronic equipment, specifically tape machines and frequency generators, "were my early toys, in fact. So, I played with disused reel-to-reel tape machines and the frequency generators I've inherited from people."

In her performances, Friedberg continues to revive instruments, and even sources her equipment from a Russian mechanic in Coney Island. Through her dysfunctional equipment and rigorous planning, Friedberg creates music with a controlled chaos and haunting ambiance.

More information on Sabisha Friedberg and her recent double-LP can be found at the Issue Project Room website.

 

Price of orange juice squeezes consumers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

Orange growers in Florida are having a tough time of it. The “greening” disease that’s been lowering yields for years is making this year’s crop one of the smallest in decades.

That’s translating into higher prices for orange juice — averaging $6.63 per gallon.

Consumers are drinking less, but still guzzle $3.2 billion worth of juice per year, says Jonna Parker of Nielsen research.

“It’s still a really, really big industry,” she says, but there's been a steady decline in sales over the last five years.

The size of orange juice containers is shrinking as well.

“Some of the brands out there have put the orange juice into the smaller, one-serving size” says LeAnna Himrod, who heads the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association in Florida.

She says beverage companies are responding to busy consumers who not only want convenience, but also something that feels fresh and healthy.

Consumers like DC resident Rob Parker, who worries about the sugar in off-the-shelf orange juice.

“I used to go through probably half a gallon every few days," he says. "Now, I only get fresh-squeezed, and that’s maybe once or twice a month.”

Growers are trying to keep back the greening disease in order to lower prices, and hopefully, bring orange juice back to the breakfast table.

Colorado workers sue Chipotle following nation trend

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

Chipotle recently extended paid sick leave, vacation and tuition reimbursement to its hourly workers.

Still, tens of thousands of employees at Chipotle Mexican Grills around the country are not happy with the Denver-based fast casual poster child over how they are paid. Earlier this month, a court in Los Angeles approved a $2 million settlement with over 38,000 plaintiffs for allegations of unpaid overtime, rest breaks and minimum wage. These Chipotle employees and others in more lawsuits across the country have joined a national workplace trend: filing class-action lawsuits against their employer claiming unfair pay.

Brittany Swa 

Joe Mahoney/Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Britney Swa started working at a Chipotle in Centennial, Colorado in 2010 as a crew-member. Swa ran the cashier, grilled meat and served customers, at $14.50 an hour plus overtime at time-and-a-half. When she was promoted to apprentice manager a few months later she expected to get more managerial training, but she said the only difference was making the daily morning bank deposit.

“It takes you like 15 minutes,” she says.

On top of that, she was now averaging 55-60 hours a week, she says, and she was now an exempt employee and couldn’t claim overtime.

“If they needed coverage, you’d be the one to cover, or someone calls in sick or they can’t come in that day, you gotta cover.”

Swa is one of the tens of thousands of plaintiffs in settled and ongoing lawsuits from California to New York suing Chipotle for unpaid wages either because they allege they were misclassified as managers or because they worked off the clock, cleaning the store and attending mandatory meetings.

“Cases of this kind are happening with increasing frequency around the country and are not unique to Chipotle,” company spokesman Chris Arnold says.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, federal lawsuits like this one have more than doubled in the past decade.

“It’s very confusing to figure out how to follow this law,” Mountain States Employers Council attorney Lorrie Ray says.

The federal law was written during the Great Depression. Rules on when to pay overtime, for example, are complicated and there’s a lot of room for error, Ray says.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys, the employees’ attorneys, became aware that this was sort of lucrative ground for them to cover,” she says. “They started insisting that employers pay their clients for mistakes they’d made under the law.”

There’s another reason, according to Denver University law professor Nantiya Ruan, who is also helping with the apprentice overtime lawsuit against Chipotle. The modern-day workplace is different.

“We expect workers to be on call and working a tremendous amount of hours in a way that we hadn’t been in the 60s and 70s,” she says.

Chipotle has now settled lawsuits with workers in Maryland, California and Florida. In the coming months, wage lawsuits against the company in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas are pending class action certification.

Bin lorry driver denied blacking out

BBC - Mon, 2015-07-27 01:54
A fatal accident inquiry into the bin lorry crash which killed six people in Glasgow hears the driver told a nurse he had not blacked out.

Cosby accusers' interviews published

BBC - Mon, 2015-07-27 01:53
Thirty-five of the women accusing Bill Cosby of rape or sexual assault are interviewed and photographed for the front cover of New York Magazine.

Payday firm to pay £20m compensation

BBC - Mon, 2015-07-27 01:51
Payday lender Cash Genie is to pay compensation after charging customers £50 to transfer them to the company's debt collection business.

Kanye West's 13 minute Canada gig

BBC - Mon, 2015-07-27 01:44
Was this the shortest Kanye gig ever? The rapper storms off stage after a mic fail.

20th Century artists on show at Tate

BBC - Mon, 2015-07-27 01:42
The work of 20th Century artists dominates next year's programme at Tate with exhibitions including US artists Georgia O'Keeffe and Robert Rauschenberg and war artist Paul Nash.

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