National / International News

PODCAST: Lend me your art

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 03:00

How the falling price of oil and its effects on the economy might factor into the deliberations of the Federal Reserve this week. And while the economic scars of the recession largely started to heal by 2013 for white Americans, minority Americans are still feeling an acute decline in wealth, according to Federal Reserve data that was crunched by the Pew Research Center. We dig into one of the reasons why: Housing. Plus, while western sanctions bite more deeply into the Russian economy, and there's talk of a new Cold War, the British Museum has stunned the world with an extraordinary gesture.  It's lent a priceless Greek antiquity to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. But why lend to the Russians? 

Referendum vote is deemed a success

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:54
The Scottish independence referendum was "well run" with high levels of voter satisfaction and is an example to be followed, according to the election watchdog.

Nursing assistant suspended sentence

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:54
A nursing assistant at Muckamore Abbey Hospital near Antrim is given a suspended prison sentence for assaulting a mentally-disabled woman she was meant to be caring for.

Design and technology 'marginalised'

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:52
Design and technology is being marginalised by curriculum changes, the subject's teachers say.

Briton guilty of Kenyan child abuse

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:49
Ex-teacher Simon Harris is found guilty of sexually abusing children in Kenya after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Microsoft rivals unite over data row

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:44
Apple and eBay are among those supporting Microsoft's stand against handing over data stored in Ireland to the US government.

Taliban Gunmen Storm School, Kill Dozens In Pakistan

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:35

Officials said the death toll stood at 126 more than half of them were students. The school is run by the military and the Taliban said they were retaliating for a recent military offensive.

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England-only votes: the options

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:18
What exactly are the options for votes on English laws?

In pictures: Peshawar school attack

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:10
Taliban gunmen open fire on school in Peshawar

Landlord pub murder accused remanded

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:06
A man accused of murdering a pub landlord on Anglesey appears at Mold Crown Court.

Teen raped woman on his birthday

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:06
A teenager who raped and assaulted a woman outside a nightclub where he was celebrating turning 18 is jailed for five years.

Child car smoking ban bill launched

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:04
South of Scotland Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume formally launches a bill at Holyrood to prevent smoking in cars with children in them.

NSA spying prompts security changes

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:02
Continuing revelations about government-backed surveillance have prompted millions of people to do more to keep their data private, suggests a survey.

Wealth gap in U.S. widens among races

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:00

As the economy recovers, the wealth gap along racial lines in the U.S. is widening.

What’s driving the divide? Recent research shows one big reason is the disparity in asset wealth. 

Click the media player above to hear more.

Wealth gap widens among races

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:00

As the economy recovers, the wealth gap along racial lines is widening.

What’s driving the divide? Recent research shows one big reason is the disparity in asset wealth. 

Click the media player above to hear more.

How will the Fed respond to plummeting oil prices?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:00

The Federal Reserve is expected to make some big announcements this week on the heels of meetings in Washington where Janet Yellen and her colleagues will discuss the health of the U.S. economy. One subject that will undoubtedly come up: Plummeting oil prices. As of today, oil is hovering right around $60 a barrel. So how will oil’s new low, low price affect the Fed’s anticipated policy changes?

Let’s start with inflation. One of the Fed’s stated goals is to increase inflation in the U.S. from its current 1.7 percent, to a target rate of 2 percent, “and all that’s going on in the energy sector is somewhat disinflationary if not deflationary,” says  Marilyn Cohen, president of Envision capital management. She thinks falling prices in the energy sector could make the Fed cautious about raising interest rates.

But Americans spending less on fuel means consumers have more money for goods and services, “and that,” says former Fed economist Morris Davis, “should create, or at least be correlated, with new job creation.”

Money not being spent on oil would do more good for the economy than the hit that U.S. oil companies will take, and Davis thinks the Fed sees these low oil prices as a new, longer term reality. “If that’s what the Federal Reserve is thinking then they would I guess, assume an extended boom on these low oil prices.”

A continuing boom would be a signal to the Fed that says "go ahead, raise interest rates." The Fed will issue its statement on Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navigating health insurance for small businesses

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:00

This is Mike Brey’s busiest time of year. 

Brey owns four Hobby Works toy stores in Maryland and Virginia, and he’s got about 50 full- and part-time workers. He huddles with one at his store in Laurel, Maryland, in an aisle jam-packed with remote-control cars. They're talking inventory.

Brey is just getting over a cold. There’s no time to sleep around the holidays if you own a toy store, and no time to look over health insurance plans – one of his least favorite chores.

“Yeah, I hate it,” he says.

Still, Brey does provide insurance for his employees, even though he doesn’t have to, because he has fewer than 50 full-timers. Brey leads me to his back office and computer, where he’s been noodling around on Maryland’s SHOP website, which was set up under the Affordable Care Act to connect small businesses with health insurers.

“There we go," he says, clicking on the site and reading. "See details of SHOP plans for 2014 coverage.”

Brey says he used to have only a couple of plans to choose from. But on the SHOP exchange, “You have CareFirst offering, Coventry, Evergreen, Kaiser, United.”

But here’s the thing: Brey’s just browsing, not buying. And he’s not alone.

“It’s been, admittedly, a little slow getting out of the starting gate,” says Sabrina Corlette, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. 

She says there are a number of reasons enrollment in the SHOP exchanges isn’t taking off. They’ve had technical problems, and a tax credit small businesses get for using SHOP is hard to apply for.

“I’ve heard from some small businesses that they’d have to pay their accountant and broker more than they actually would get back in benefits,” she says.

Still, there is some evidence that businesses could get a deal on SHOP. 

“We found, in general, that plans on the SHOP cost less than those off the SHOP," says Jon Gabel, a senior fellow at NORC, a University of Chicago research center. "Could be 9 percent lower on average.”

Still, Gabel says, it’s too soon to say whether the SHOP exchanges will survive.  

But Brey hopes they stick around. He says he’ll start some serious insurance shopping after the holiday rush.

Will oil’s price affect the Fed?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:00

The Federal Reserve is expected to make some big announcements this week, coming on the heels of meetings in Washington where Janet Yellen and her colleagues will be discussing the health of the U.S. economy. One subject that will undoubtedly come up is plummeting oil prices. As of today, oil is hovering right around $60 a barrel. So how will oil’s new low, low price affect the Fed’s anticipated policy changes?

Let’s start with inflation. One of the Fed’s stated goals is to increase inflation in the U.S. from its current 1.7 percent, to a target rate of 2 percent, “and all that’s going on in the energy sector is somewhat disinflationary if not deflationary,” says  Marilyn Cohen, president of Envision capital management. She thinks falling prices in the energy sector could make the Fed cautious about raising interest rates.

But Americans spending less on fuel means consumers have more money for goods and services, “and that,” says former Fed economist Morris Davis, “should create, or at least be correlated, with new job creation.”

Money not being spent on oil would do more good for the economy than the hit that U.S. oil companies will take, and Davis thinks the Fed sees these low oil prices as a new, longer term reality. “If that’s what the Federal Reserve is thinking then they would I guess, assume an extended boom on these low oil prices.”

A continuing boom would be a signal to the Fed that says go ahead, raise interest rates. The Fed will issue its statement on Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the pulse of SHOP exchanges

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-16 02:00

This is Mike Brey’s busiest time of year. 

Brey owns four Hobby Works toy stores in Maryland and Virginia, and he’s got about 50 full and part-time workers. He huddles with one at his store in Laurel, Maryland, in an aisle jam-packed with remote-control cars. They're talking inventory.

Brey is just getting over a cold. There’s no time to sleep around the holidays if you own a toy store, and no time to look over health insurance plans — one of his least favorite chores.

“Yeah, I hate it,” he says.

Still, Brey does provide insurance for his employees, even though he doesn’t have to, because he has fewer than 50 full-timers. Brey leads me to his back office and computer, where he’s been noodling around on Maryland’s SHOP website, which was set up under the Affordable Care Act to connect small businesses with health insurers.

“There we go," he says, clicking on the site and reading. "See details of SHOP plans for 2014 coverage.”

Brey says he used to have only a couple of plans to choose from. But on the SHOP exchange, “You have CareFirst offering, Coventry, Evergreen, Kaiser, United.”

But here’s the thing: Brey’s just browsing, not buying. And he’s not alone.

“It’s been, admittedly, a little slow getting out of the starting gate,” says Sabrina Corlette, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. 

She says there are a number of reasons enrollment in the SHOP exchanges isn’t taking off. They’ve had technical problems, and a tax credit small businesses get for using SHOP is really hard to apply for.

“I’ve heard from some small businesses that they’d have to pay their accountant and broker more than they actually would get back in benefits,” she says.

Still, there is some evidence that businesses could get a deal on SHOP. 

“We found, in general, that plans on the SHOP cost less than those off the SHOP," says Jon Gabel, a senior fellow at NORC, a University of Chicago research center. "Could be 9 percent lower on average.”

Still, Gabel says, it’s too soon to say whether the SHOP exchanges will survive.  

But Brey hopes they stick around. He says he’ll start some serious insurance shopping after the holiday rush.

Spain targets IS women recruiters

BBC - Tue, 2014-12-16 01:58
Seven people are detained in a series of raids by Spain and Morocco on a suspected network recruiting women to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

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