National / International News

Weekly Wrap: Who's feeling those sanctions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-25 13:18

Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew said American companies will be paying a little bit of a price for the sanctions  imposed on Russia.

“Visa has already said that the sanctions are likely having an effect on its performance. The other likely culprits are Boeing or Exxon [or] Morgan Stanley. There are a number of major U.S. companies that have complained about both sanctions that already exist and ones that appear to currently be on the table, because they could hurt their business as well,” said Catherine Rampell, columnist for the Washington Post.

Rating agencies have also laid out numerous warnings for the Russians, but to no avail, according to Sudeep Reddy from the Wall Street Journal:

“We’ve seen warnings for weeks and months and they haven’t really made that much of a difference. The sanctions so far have barely scratched the surface. There are a lot of things that could be placed on the Russian economy to force the hand on some of the leaders there at least to get them thinking a lot harder about what’s being done… But the question here is how much pain do you end up with on regular Russians, and regular Ukrainians, and regular Europeans, and ultimately regular Americans in all of this?”

Lew also mentioned that things are still rough out there for a lot of people in this economy, but the American economy is bouncing back. Furthermore, the consumer confidence number out today even revealed that consumers are feeling better than they’ve felt since the beginning of the Great Recession.

“If you breakdown those confidence numbers… you can sort of look at the different components of the survey and say, okay, [this is] where people are feeling a little bit better and [this] where are they still kind of pessimistic," Rampell said. "The places where people seemed to be a little bit more optimistic were places like job prospects. People say they’ve experienced income gains, they perceive inflation to be low. They basically think that their current financial status is... a little bit better than it had been,” says Rampell.

Although the economy is getting better, Reddy says it’s not moving fast enough: “…We’re improving, it’s just not filtering through across the spectrum as quickly as it needs to for us to feel like this is a real recovery.”

Rum Renaissance Revives The Spirit's Rough Reputation

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 13:17

The official cheap liquor of spring breakers is becoming something much more sophisticated. And South Florida has become ground zero for the rum revolution.

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Alibaba: Yes, it's that big

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-25 13:14

Alibaba is getting ready to go public, and analysts have predicted the company could be worth upwards of $150 to $200 billion. Its high valuation is a factor of its scale, its dominance in the Chinese e-commerce market, and its highly successful monetization of its platform through ad revenue.

As a company, Alibaba is often described as a combination of eBay and Amazon, but you could throw in a little PayPal, Yahoo, and Citigroup too. Alibaba has a sizable role in mobile banking and online advertising technology.

So here is a comparison of Alibaba with those companies for some perspective on just how big it is.

Deciphering financial aid offers for college

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-25 13:07

Spring is the time of year when high school seniors prepare for college and their life after school. Though a typical undergraduate program lasts four years, paying off student loans can easily last decades if you don't properly plan.

If you're comparing the costs of tuition between schools, there are a few things you should look out for, says personal finance expert Liz Weston.

Financial aid offers often don't include the total cost of attendance, according to Weston. "That’s fairly common that they might just mention tuition and fees, and not mention books and supplies or living expenses," Weston says. In a city like Manhattan, living costs can dwarf the cost of tuition.

Financial aid packages also blur the lines between loans and actual savings like grants and scholarships. "They pretend, 'Hey, look at this great award we've just given you, and most of it is loans.' So, they’re not really reducing the cost for attending — they’re just shoving it out into the future and putting it on you."

Weston says that some, but not all, schools have adopted standardized "shopping lists" that make it easier to compare offers. She also suggests the College Board ( or CollegeData ( and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's financial aid comparison tool ( to better compare costs.

But how much is too much for college?

That answer depends on the individual, but Weston says one rule of thumb is, "try to limit the amount that you borrow to the amount you expect to make your first year out of school. So, the total for your undergraduate education is no more than your first job is going to pay you. Now again that’s very general, it’s not going to apply to everyone, but it’s a good start."

But as Weston notes, "the problem that a lot of people have is that they’re not really sure what they want to do when they’re 17 or 18 [years old] ... an even better rule of thumb is to stick to federal student loans." Unlike private loans, federal student loans are capped at $5,500. That won't cover the cost of a four-year private university in a big city, "but it gives you an idea that you really need to limit this debt you really need to be on your guard. And if you’re a parent, I'dd be very very careful about taking on debt, particularly if you’re not already saving enough for your own retirement. You don’t want to be in a situation where you can’t retire because you’re still paying for your kids education."

Deadly blasts at Baghdad rally

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 13:00
At least 31 people are killed in a series of blasts targeting a Shia election rally in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Deadly floods swamp Afghan villages

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:58
At least 80 villagers are killed and hundreds left stranded on roofs as devastating flash floods hit northern Afghanistan, officials say.

VIDEO: Missing tourist feared drowned

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:27
Dutch police have said a missing tourist from West Sussex might have drowned in a canal following a night out with friends.

Electoral rolls' data breach inquiry

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:26
An inquiry is under way after three Welsh councils said people's personal data may have been mistakenly sold.

North Korea Detains 24-Year-Old American Tourist

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:19

North Korea says it arrested the man for his "rash behavior." The U.S. State Department says it is trying to get more information.

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Northwestern Players Cast Union Vote — But Results Will Have To Wait

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:04

Northwestern University football players are voting Thursday on whether to unionize. Earlier, the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago ruled that the athletes' team requirements essentially make them employees of the university. This, in turn, means they can form a union. The university is appealing the NLRB ruling to the full board.

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Obama Offers Support And Condolences In Somber South Korea

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:04

President Obama is in South Korea, on another stop in his four-nation swing through East Asia. He voiced support for the country amid North Korea's threats to detonate another nuclear device.

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Columbia Comes Under Fire For Handling Of Sexual Assault Cases

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:04

Twenty-three students from Columbia and Barnard say that the university is mishandling allegations of sexual assault. They filed federal complaints with the Department of Education on Thursday.

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Heated Words On Air Often Don't Match Events On Ground In Ukraine

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:04

Reports of what transpired during the Ukrainian offensive are stirring some confusion. Fewer people died than initially reported, and life appears normal in the allegedly besieged city of Slovyansk.

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Pentagon staff 'to leave Ecuador'

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:04
The US says 20 of its Pentagon staff will leave Ecuador by the end of this month, to comply with an order from President Rafael Correa.

Politicians Get Personal With Memorable Early Campaign Ads

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:04

It's early in the 2014 election season, but already some noteworthy — and powerful — biographical spots are starting to appear.

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Family Tree Of Pertussis Traced, Could Lead To Better Vaccine

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:04

Scientists tracking the ancestry of whooping cough say it arose abruptly in humans about 500 years ago, caused by a mutated bacterium that once lived only in animals. Genetic tricks helped it spread.

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You Love The Cloud, But It May Not Be As Secure As You Think

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-25 12:04

People are storing more and more stuff online: photos, music, documents — even books. But if you're storing your digital belongings in the cloud, you should know you're giving up some rights.

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North Korea 'detains US tourist'

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 11:56
North Korea detains a 24-year-old US tourist, reportedly for "rash behaviour" at immigration, the country's state news agency says.

VIDEO: Under London in Crossrail's tunnels

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 11:53
Crossrail is Europe's biggest infrastructure project and is planned to run from Reading and Heathrow Airport, west of London, to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east by 2018.

'Observers seized' in east Ukraine

BBC - Fri, 2014-04-25 11:43
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine seize observers attached to a European monitoring unit, Ukrainian officials say.
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