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Updated: 16 min 51 sec ago

School lunch's food fight

Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing Wednesday on the reauthorization of the 2010 "Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act".

Proponents say the nutritional requirements in the law help address America's epidemic of childhood obesity. The School Nutrition Association supports the reauthorization of the act, but it opposes the full implementation of the nutritional rules. 

The SNA says the requirements, such as a gradual lowering of sodium levels and a mandate to increase whole grain content, turn students off of healthy food options. Research from the University of Connecticut came to the opposite conclusion.

The SNA has come under attack for its ties to food and beverage conglomerates, whose products could be pushed out of lunch rooms if the sodium rules were to go into full effect.

New Proposed Rules for Retirement Investments

Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

Federal regulators are proposing new rules to protect retirement savings. As part of Obama’s stated plan to bolster the middle class, the Labor Department proposed changes to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The rules are designed to protect retirees from investment brokers who put their own financial interests above their clients and eliminate conflicts of interest that encourage brokers to steer their clients into unsound investments.

Olivia Mitchell is director of the Pension Research Council at Wharton and she says these new rules will force brokers to be more transparent. “What that will mean is that if you do charge for your advice you have to disclose up front how you are charging and how that impacts the client.”

This is an issue now says Mitchell because there’s been a big shift away from pensions to individual retirement accounts. Regulators estimate that these new rules will save retirees $40 billion over the next 10 years. But that’s if they go into effect in their current form. As of today, the public and industry groups have 75 days to submit comments on the new rules to regulators.

The financial services industry has pushed back in the past on rules like these. In 2011 the labor department retracted its first proposal because the financial services industry thought the rules went too far.

IRS warns of sophisticated telephone scam

Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The Treasury department says thousands of people have fallen victim to a phone scam, where a caller impersonates an IRS agent, and threatens criminal penalties and other legal action if money isn't paid immediately.

The agency says it is the largest scam of its kind and has spanned more than a year and a half. Americans have been duped out of more than $14 million, and the calls have surged in recent months, authorities say.

"The clients that I've had inquiries from run the gamut," says David McKelvey, an accountant at Friedman LLP, "an elderly person... younger people, they're business owners, they're employees."

Paul Gevertzman, a tax attorney at Anchin, Block & Anchin, says the scammers have increased the sophistication of their deception, making the calls seem legitimate.

"They're able to basically mimic an IRS address on your caller ID," says Gevertzman, "It gives a little more validity. And you think, 'this really is the IRS, because it says so on my phone.'"

The IRS says the agency will never make an initial contact with a taxpayer by phone. It will do so by certified mail.

If you have questions about your tax obligation, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

And if you think you have been targeted by a phone scam, you can call the Inspector General for Tax Administration at the Department of Treasury to report the incident at 1-800-366-4484.

A conversation with director of the U.S. Patent Office

Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

Over at US Patent and Trademarks, they don't use the word "troll." This is kind of patent holder who is less interested in using a patent and more interested in holding up other people for licensing money even if they haven't actually infringed. With the patents and trademarks people celebrating the 225th anniversary of the Patents Act this month, we reached Michelle Lee, the newly confirmed Director. We discussed the her preferred term "abusive litigation," intellectual property, and how to encourage innovation. 

Click on the multimedia player above to hear more.

School lunch's food fight

Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing Wednesday on the reauthorization of the 2010 "Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act".

Proponents say the nutritional requirements in the law help address America's epidemic of childhood obesity. The School Nutrition Association supports the reauthorization of the act, but it opposes the full implementation of the nutritional rules. 

The SNA says the requirements, such as a gradual lowering of sodium levels and a mandate to increase whole grain content, turn students off of healthy food options. Research from the University of Connecticut came to the opposite conclusion.

The SNA has come under attack for its ties to food and beverage conglomerates, whose products could be pushed out of lunch rooms if the sodium rules were to go into full effect.

I'm a Barbie girl, in an Instagram world

Wed, 2015-04-15 01:00
7 percent

That's China's latest growth rate. The numbers cover January to March, and annualized it's down from previous growth rates. While that's magnificent by U.S. standards, it's a lackluster figure for China, which has to keep creating jobs for people pulled into the economy from the hinterlands.

700,000 followers

That's how many followers (and counting) Barbie (yes, the doll) has on Instagram. @BarbieStyle is meticulously managed by vice president of design Kim Culmone, director of design Robert Best, and the main creative thinker for the account Zlatan Zukanovic. Modeled after popular style blog Instagram accounts, Barbie's photos include selfies, closeups of accessories, and outfit of the day shots. Racked has the origin story of what it's like to photograph a Barbie girl living in a Barbie world.

2.9 billion miles

That's about how many miles NASA's New Horizons probe has traveled thus far on its journey to Pluto. When it does reach the dwarf planet in July, it will be the first time a spacecraft will have visited. In the meantime, VOX has the first color photos sent back from the probe.

225th

This month marks the 225th anniversary of the Patent Act, celebrated by the patents and trademarks industry nationwide. In honor of this landmark, Marketplace Morning Report talked with Michelle Lee, newly confirmed director of the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. The former Google attorney prefers the term "abusive litigation" to instead of "patent trolls." She also talked about how women in STEM field can encourage innovation for companies and society. 

11:59:59PM

This is your income tax deadline today...unless you filed for an extension. Turns out, it's a popular course of action. Listen to our resident explainer Paddy Hirsh on why we have a nation of procrastinators here in the U.S. 

25 percent

That's the percentage of part-time college faculty that receive public assistance. And as Slate points out, that's a lot of highly educated individuals—most hold Ph.D degrees and Master's degrees—needing help to provide for themselves and their families.

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