National News

Eyes On 2016, GOP Revisits The Rebranding

NPR News - Sat, 2014-01-25 06:08

The Republican National Committee's annual meetings this week provided an opportunity to see how far Republicans have come in an effort, begun a year ago, to reach out to new voters — especially young people, minorities and women.

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Eternal Vanity: 'The Art Of The Dressing Table'

NPR News - Sat, 2014-01-25 05:42

Ever since there have been puddles of water, human beings have gazed at their reflections. Our need to primp and preen, whether we live in the Bronze Age or the Space Age, is on display in a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York called Vanities: The Art of the Dressing Table.

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Police Make Arrest In Fatal Shooting At SC State University

NPR News - Sat, 2014-01-25 05:28

The suspect was charged with murder early Saturday in connection with Friday's killing of Brandon Robinson, a member of the school's football team.

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Li Na Wins A Second Grand Slam At Australian Open

NPR News - Sat, 2014-01-25 05:02

The Chinese tennis star defeated her Slovakian opponent, Dominika Cibulkova, 7-6 (3), 6-0. It's Li's second Grand Slam title after she won at the French Open in 2011.

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Artist Transforms Guns To Make Music — Literally

NPR News - Sat, 2014-01-25 02:24

Mexican Artist Pedro Reyes wants to encourage questions about the availability of deadly weapons, so he turns guns into shovels and most recently, unique musical instruments.

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NFL Fines Seattle's Richard Sherman Nearly $8,000

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 18:02

Days after his conduct in the NFC title game sparked a wide-ranging controversy, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has been fined for what the NFL calls unsportsmanlike conduct and taunting.

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Student Is Shot And Killed At S.C. State University

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 16:58

The shooting took place at a dormitory around 1:30 p.m. The Orangeburg, S.C., campus was locked down for hours afterward; a search for the suspects is still underway off-campus, officials said.

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Immigrants Won't Be Shackled At San Francisco Court Hearings

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 16:08

The new procedure is part of a settlement between immigration officials and civil rights advocates. Shackles will now only be used in an emergency and during master calendar hearings. It's unclear what effect the agreement will have nationally.

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High Court Grants Nuns Temporary Exemption From Birth Control Mandate

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 15:51

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns from Denver, are suing the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate. The court put the mandate on hold, while the case is decided by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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String Of Oil Train Crashes Prompts Push For Safety Rules

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 15:20

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for the swift enactment of tough new standards on trains carrying crude oil. With the huge increase in oil shipped by rail across North America, safety officials warn another major disaster could be looming.

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An Unconventional Contender Emerges As GOP Ponders 2016 Convention

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 15:01

Las Vegas may seem to be an unlikely place for Republicans to gather to nominate their next presidential candidate. That's exactly why city leaders are getting such a head start on their pitch to do just that.

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New Study Shakes Up Science On Midwest Quake Zone

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 14:59

The fault that sparked a series of magnitude 7 earthquakes in 1811-12 had been thought dead, but the latest research suggests the region is still alive and kicking.

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Judge Tells Hospital To Take Pregnant Woman Off Life Support

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 14:47

A North Texas judge has ordered a Fort Worth hospital to remove life support from a woman who is 22 weeks pregnant. Her family says Marlise Munoz is brain-dead; the hospital has cited a state law requiring her to be kept alive.

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What's your Facebook credit score?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 14:37

We know that credit goes way beyond the plastic in our wallets -- from how much debt we carry to paying it off on time. Now, some credit agencies are looking into using our social media information in our credit reports.

Credit expert John Ulzheimer says what we post and who we add as friends on social media can have farer reaching effects than we think. “It’s the whole mantra, birds of a feather tend to flock together. And if you tend to connect with people who are high risk or higher risk borrowers, then the perception is that you are as well. And that’s really where the issue lies.”

It's not hard to figure out why credit agencies would want to know what you're like as a person to decide if you're worthy of a loan or credit card, but, is it legal? Ulzheimer says that remains to be seen. "Whether or not it’s legal really is up to how it is perceived in the Equal Opportunity Credit Act. It has to be built using science.”

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have treasure troves full of information that they could sell, but actually selling personal information could lead to headaches down the road, according to Ulzheimer. “Here is the massive, massive problem that ... social media sites are going to have to deal with. Right now, none of those companies are referred to as a 'consumer reporting agency.' The Fair Credit Reporting Act has a very clear definition of what is a consumer reporting agency. The minute any of these social media sites decide to monetize their information for the purposes of allowing lenders and credit reporting agencies to assess the risk … of consumers, they also become become a consumer reporting agency … you’re going to be in the crosshairs for any number of federal fair credit reporting lawsuits.”

So, should you worry? Ulzheimer says don't go into paralysis over your social media networks, but if there's something you want to remain private, don't post it. "I would just be very careful, that if you’re not willing to tell everybody something, then don’t post it on Facebook, don’t put it on Twitter.”

Sound advice, even beyond credit scores.

Moustaches are up; shaving is down

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 14:34

Procter and Gamble reported quarterly profits this morning. Turns out they're down 16 percent, in part because sales at Gillette were off, as beards and mustaches are apparently becoming more popular.

Chief Financial officer John Moeller said this to the Financial Times: "While the incidence of facial shaving is somewhat down... the incidence of body shaving is up, and we can take advantage of that."

You can't unhear that.

Holder Favors Pot Banking, And Legal Dealers Shrug

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 14:09

The attorney general's view could make it easier for marijuana businesses to have bank accounts. But shop owners say they never doubted that banks want a cut of a billion-dollar industry.

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Giving credit where credit is due

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 13:34

By writing the next line, I am basically begging Marketplace Money host Carmen Wong Ulrich to wag her finger in my face: I have only checked my credit score once in life.

It was a couple of years ago when I was making my first major "grown-up" purchase – a car.  And I haven’t checked it since.  The good news is, when my credit history was run (that one time), it turned up an impressive 780.  Yay me!  In case you’re not aware of how FICO credit scores are ranked, it goes a little something like this:

BAD 599-649

BETTER 650-699

GOOD 700-749

EXCELLENT 750-800

But did you know there’s an unlisted category of consumers? People who have a credit score of more than 800: the Credit Elite

Okay, we made that label up, but these personal finance high achievers deserve their own title, don’t you think? Only about 18 percent of Americans can say they’re in the 800-plus club. Naturally, we wondered what kind of people are credit perfectionists. 

We asked on Facebook here and here for folks with an impressive score to tell us about how they achieved it and how much work it takes to maintain credit nirvana. The following is a collection of some of our favorite responses, complete with tips on how to get on their level.

Amy writes:

“Being raised on a small family farm, I was taught from a very young age that you don't know if you'll have a crop next year. So you save consistently and live well within your means. This means that I've paid for cars in cash (because i save for them) and only purchase on credit cards what I have the money to pay for right away. My credit score was 804 at last check.”

That being said, I am NOT a homeowner.

Edward says:

“[My credit score is] 830.  For years I have had all accounts set up for auto-pay, and have made sure that the money was in the account. Credit cards never carry a balance, and are paid off every month.”

And Meredith  (FICO score 806) adds:

“My ‘secret’? Get a credit card early on. Use it sparingly. Pay on time. Pay the balance in full, if possible. The end :)”

They make it sound so simple, don’t they? Well, not everyone who got in touch with us had an easy row to hoe.  Cindy in Fishers, Ind., shared her story of how she went from having a mountain of credit card debt to scoring an 820:

And Frederick of San Diego, California readily admits that he probably would have gone down a bad financial path if his mother hadn’t given him a sound financial education:

Now I’m thinking, since I’m so close to being a card-carrying member of the 800 Plus Club, should I strive for credit perfection? Well, maybe I’m already there.  Like I said, it’s been a while since I checked my score…

Are you in the Credit Elite? Tell us your story with a comment below or Tweet us your score @LiveMoney with the hashtag #800plusclub. 

In The Super Bowl Ad Game, One Small Business Will Win Big

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 13:28

This year, one lucky little company's professionally produced commercial will air during the Super Bowl's third quarter — all free — thanks to a contest held by the software firm Intuit. The four finalists include an organic egg farm and a natural compost supplier. For Intuit, it's a smart way to drum up more business.

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The Healthy, Not The Young, May Determine Health Law's Fate

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 13:25

Much has been made of the need for young, healthy people to sign up if the Affordable Care Act is going to work. But it may be that the key word here is not young, but healthy. Insurance companies get paid more for older people, regardless of their health.

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Dow Loses 318 Points, The Most In One Day Since June

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 13:24

The index joined the rout that hit European and Asian markets on fears that the global economy is slowing.

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