National / International News

Can Radio Shack fix it?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:00

Ever dropped your phone or tablet? Cracked a screen? RadioShack wants to help. It’s launching a nationwide repair program this week it calls "Fix It Here."

RadioShack says that customers can bring an injured iPhone or Samsung Galaxy into a store and it’ll be fixed right there. Repair prices start at $79.99. 

“I think it’s pretty cool,” says Samuel Gibbs as he leaves a RadioShack store in downtown Washington DC. 

He says his girlfriend recently dropped her phone. They didn’t even think about getting it repaired.

“She ended up having to get a new one, which cost us about $250 I think, so it would have been nice to have had a replaced screen instead,” he says.

Radio Shack may be onto something. More consumers are having to buy their own phones, so more may be interested in repairing them when they break. It doesn't change the fact that Radio Shack has been struggling for years. Will "Fix It Now" fix RadioShack? 

Not unless the chain makes other changes, says Harry Wang, director of mobile research at Parks Associates: "They either have to beef up their online program or try to find some really unique kind of merchandise to survive.”

Wang says RadioShack will also have to contend with competition as manufacturers and other big retail chains start their own repair programs.

Obama, Tumblr, and student debt

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 01:00

On Monday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that will help up to 5 million people pay off their student loans. He also pushed congress to lower borrowing costs for college kids.

Now, he's taking to Tumblr for the first time, to talk education.

It’s another chance for him to shine a light on the unsustainable cost of college.

It's also another chance to point out how comfortable he is with social media.

President Obama has participated in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, a town hall meeting on Twitter, and even the online faux talk show “Between Two Ferns” to plug the Affordable Care Act.

“I wouldn’t give him an A on all the things in his presidency,” says Dave Kerpen, social media expert and cofounder of Likeable Media. “But on social media, I’d actually give the president an A.”

Tumblr, say experts, is exactly the right place to talk school costs. “It’s most popular with people under the age of 30,” said Mark Schafer, author of “Social Media Explained.”

It’s a direct line to a generation facing a trillion dollars in student debt, not to mention an indirect line to congress to put the pressure on.

VIDEO: Lineker tips Messi for Golden Boot

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 00:42
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker thinks Argentina's Lionel Messi is the player most likely to top score at this summer's World Cup

S African MPs 'catering making us fat'

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 00:35
Politicians blame greasy cafe for bulging waistlines.

The difference between debt and deficit: An explainer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-10 00:34

A lot of people confuse the words debt and deficit. They're not quite the same, although they are related.

It's pretty simple, though. If you spend more money than you make, that's a deficit. And if you run a deficit, you have a choice: you can either borrow money and go into debt, or you can go bust, or default.

Debt itself isn't necessarily bad. Debt can help you grow – you may not be able to get an education without a student loan, for example. And just because you have some debt doesn't necessarily mean you're running a deficit. So long as you make enough money to pay the interest on the loan without going into more debt, you're in good shape. You may even be running a surplus, which is when you make more money than you spend.

The one thing you don't want to do, as a homeowner, is to use debt to run a deficit. In other words, you don't want to get into a situation where you're spending more money than you make, and you're making up the difference by borrowing.

But that's what a lot of Americans do. And they do it by using credit card debt. The Federal Reserve's latest figures say American household debt is now $13 trillion, and the average U.S. household credit card debt stands at $15,191.

Borrowing money to keep your financial head above water is a bad idea to begin with, but using the most expensive kind of debt is insane. And credit card debt is, without a doubt, the most expensive kind of debt that's out there.

For a household, then, running a deficit is, generally, a bad idea, particularly if you're using credit card debt to stay afloat.

But what about a country? The U.S. has a roughly $17 trillion debt load. And our government spends $306.4 billion more than it earns. And we make up for that $47.2 billion deficit by borrowing even more!

The fact is that when countries borrow to make up a deficit, they generally don't have to resort to the most expensive debt out there. And in the case of the U.S. government, it's the reverse: the U.S. is able to borrow at the cheapest rate anywhere.

But just because we can run a deficit cheaply doesn't mean we should, does it?

That depends on your points of view. An economy like the U.S. is far more complicated than a household. It has many more variables, and is infinitely more complex. To ensure the economy didn't run at a deficit, the country's leaders would need a big insurance plan to deal with any variables that required more money than they expected.

That would mean having a large reserve, and running a big surplus. That, in turn, would mean keeping that money out of circulation, which would inevitably crimp growth – perhaps a smart plan for a household, but not a healthy strategy for an economy.

Pakistan strikes 'kill 15 militants'

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 00:29
The Pakistani military says it has killed at least 15 militants in air strikes in the north-west, after the Taliban launched a deadly raid on Karachi airport.

The hidden army of carers

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 00:13
The hidden workforce that keeps health and care services afloat

VIDEO: E3: 'A tidal wave of exclusives'

BBC - Tue, 2014-06-10 00:04
As the dust settles on E3's press day, the BBC's North America Technology correspondent picks out his video games news highlights.

Spiders Tune In To Web's Music To Size Up Meals And Mates

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 23:48

Pluck the silk of a spiderweb and it vibrates like a guitar string, scientists say. By strumming the strands and detecting the tune via sensors in its legs, a spider gets key information.

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How Coal Industry Jobs Coexist With Rising Sea Levels In Virginia

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 23:47

Virginia is dependent on coal mining and export, but it also faces routine flooding from rising sea levels. That irony is a very real, day-to-day problem for residents.

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Project Eavesdrop: An Experiment At Monitoring My Home Office

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 23:47

NPR's Steve Henn, along with two tech experts, allowed Internet traffic through his laptop and cellphone to be monitored. If someone tapped your Internet connection, what would they find out?

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In Booming San Jose, Businesses Settle Into A Minimum Wage Hike

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-09 23:46

Since an increase in 2013, the minimum wage in San Jose is now one of California's highest. Some businesses have thrived in the past year, but for others, it's a more complicated picture.

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Midnight march over sex attacks

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-09 23:05
Thousands of people take part in a midnight march in the south side of Glasgow after a series of rapes and sex attacks in the city.

Abbey Rembrandt verified as genuine

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-09 23:04
A painting gifted to the National Trust is verified as a genuine Rembrandt estimated to be worth £30m.

Can Messi or Ronaldo join the immortals?

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-09 23:03
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are global icons but must dominate a World Cup to rival all-time greats, says Tom Fordyce.

Home care agency shut over failings

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-09 22:59
A home-care agency is closed down by its owners after it is found not to be delivering safe and effective care.

Study warns of future Scots poverty

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-09 22:50
One in seven working-age adults and children in Scotland could still be living in poverty by the mid-2020s, according to new research.

Five year high for Samaritans calls

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-09 22:33
Money worries are blamed as a key cause of suicidal feelings as the Samaritans in Wales report their highest number of calls for five years.

VIDEO: Demand for data on primate pets

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-09 22:33
MPs are calling for urgent government action to determine how many primates are being kept as pets across the UK.

EU leaders spar over top Europe job

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-09 22:15
Swedish, German, Dutch and UK leaders meet at a mini summit, amid controversy over Jean-Claude Juncker's bid to head the European Commission.
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