National News

Supreme Court: Case Involved Romantic Jealousy, Not Chemical Weapons

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 12:22

The justices ruled that federal authorities erred by invoking the chemical weapons treaty in prosecuting a woman who attacked a romantic rival with chemicals.

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As Bergdahl Returns Home, Accusations Of Desertion Surface

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 12:22

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl recently returned to the U.S., released from Taliban captivity in a deal that also released five Guantanamo Bay detainees. A member of Bergdahl's squad tells of a young soldier who turned sour on the Afghan mission and deserted. If true, the Army would have to consider the circumstances of his capture and whether it warrants charges.

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Palestinian Split Shows Signs Of Healing, But Israelis Aren't Pleased

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 12:22

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in the cabinet for a unity government joining his Fatah party with Hamas. It resolves a 7-year-old split but also draws condemnation from Israeli leaders.

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As Spain's King Steps Down, Protesters Hope He's The Last One

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 12:22

The king of Spain says he is stepping down, ceding the throne to the crown prince. King Juan Carlos has been in ill health, and his popularity has dropped recently after a series of scandals.

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With New EPA Rules, McCarthy Sees Economic Upside In Health Savings

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 12:22

For more on the new pollution regulations, Robert Siegel speaks with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy about her agency's carbon emission plan.

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EPA Lays Out Centerpiece To Obama's Climate Change Policy

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 12:22

The Obama administration is announcing new pollution standards Monday. The rules, key elements of President Obama's climate change policy, may decide the fate of coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

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Odds Of Abuse And Mistreatment Add Up Over Children's Lives

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 12:17

Each year, 1 percent of children are abused or neglected, usually by their parents. By the time children turn 18, about 1 in 8 of them is likely to have been maltreated, an analysis finds.

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Former Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Will Plead Guilty To Fraud

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 12:06

Patrick Cannon is accused of having accepted $50,000 in bribes. He will plead guilty to fraud on Tuesday. Cannon stepped down as mayor in March, less than four months after he was sworn in.

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Apple Makes A Play For 'Smart Homes' By Connecting Appliances

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 11:56

The tech giant announced it's working on putting technical intelligence inside our homes, getting us closer to the fabled Jetsons house where all our appliances are automated.

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Gillian Flynn on the economics behind 'Gone Girl'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-02 11:55

Success in publishing is about a lot of things. Sales, of course. Staying power. And the business of words.We've asked some of our favorite contemporary authors to share the numbers they think about as they write -- how they infuse the economic world around them into storytelling.

Here's a number for you: 78.

That's how many weeks author Gillian Flynn's book, "Gone Girl", has been on the New York Times bestseller list.

Flynn started writing her smash-hit of a novel at the height of the Recession. She had just lost her job at a magazine, and she found herself intrigued by what it meant to lose a job. Her main characters -- Nick and Amy -- wrestle with the economy in the most personal of ways.

“I wanted to explore what it meant to lose a job, what that meant to people of our age, people in their late 30s," Flynn says. "I had Nick and Amy, two people who had always thought their jobs would be very safe. And then, to have that taken away from them...to be forced to reinvent themselves a little bit. What that meant to them, what that meant to their marriage.”

Listen to the full commentary in the audio player above.

Gillian Flynn on the economics behind 'Gone Girl'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-02 11:55

Success in publishing is about a lot of things. Sales, of course. Staying power. And the business of words.We've asked some of our favorite contemporary authors to share the numbers they think about as they write -- how they infuse the economic world around them into storytelling.

Here's a number for you: 78.

That's how many weeks author Gillian Flynn's book, "Gone Girl", has been on the New York Times bestseller list.

Flynn started writing her smash-hit of a novel at the height of the Recession. She had just lost her job at a magazine, and she found herself intrigued by what it meant to lose a job. Her main characters -- Nick and Amy -- wrestle with the economy in the most personal of ways.

“I wanted to explore what it meant to lose a job, what that meant to people of our age, people in their late 30s," Flynn says. "I had Nick and Amy, two people who had always thought their jobs would be very safe. And then, to have that taken away from them...to be forced to reinvent themselves a little bit. What that meant to them, what that meant to their marriage.”

Listen to the full commentary in the audio player above.

Sandwich Monday: Caffeinated Beef Jerky

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 11:36

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try Perky Jerky. It's dried meat loaded with caffeine to fuel everything from athletic pursuits to midmorning breaks in the office.

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EPA Chief Claims Greenhouse Gas Rules Will Save Country Billions

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 11:30

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calls new rules on greenhouse gas reduction perhaps the most significant in the agency's history.

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A tour of China's ghost towns

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-02 11:26

For the past three decades, China’s growth model has been anchored in building big projects: highways, bullet trains, and real estate. And that’s left hundreds of cities across China, nearly empty – ill-conceived projects built for the sole purpose of boosting GDP growth.

An empty shopping mall in the ghost city of Ordos, China.

Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

As part of Marketplace’s stage performance in the beltway “How I learned to stop worrying and love the numbers,” China Correspondent Rob Schmitz will take audience members on a tour of China’s ghost towns, ghost malls, and ghost suburbs, delving into the numbers that explain how a land of 1.4 billion people can have so much empty real estate.

A glimpse into China's most-famed "ghost cities"

China has laid out an ambitious plan to transform 250 million people from the countryside into city dwellers in the next 20 years. Its push for urbanization has encouraged local governments and developers to build skyscrapers and residential complexes, many under the belief of “build it and they will come”. However, the construction spree has left soaring debt, creating insolvency risks for local governments and inflating the country's real estate bubble. By China’s official account, China’s local governments owed $ 1.8 trillion of debt by the end of June 2013, about a third of China’s GDP. A CLSA report says China is "addicted to debt".

We'll take listeners to a Chinese replica of Manhattan, a city that was built to replace New York City as the world’s financial capital, but is now one of the world’s largest abandoned construction sites. He’ll bring listeners on a journey to one of China’s largest ghost cities, a metropolis built for a population the size of Pittsburgh’s, but that is now largely empty, a place where squatters have begun to occupy empty offices and where the government is in so much debt that it’s turned to developers to bail it out.

The city of Yujiapu is being built to become the world's largest financial capital. Construction on the city, a replica of Manhattan, has been recently halted due to a lack of investor confidence.

Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

It’s a side of China you rarely hear about, but it’s an incredibly important phenomenon to understand to grasp the totality of the economic changes China’s embarking on as it attempts to rebalance its economy.

What Syria's President Seeks From A Not-So-Democratic Election

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 11:22

Bashar Assad is certain to cruise to victory Tuesday in a vote that's been widely condemned. But the point is not the voting. Rather, it's an attempt to show he still controls parts of the country.

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Reaching Immigrant Children By Helping Their Parents

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 11:03

A new report calls out the special challenges America faces in educating our most diverse generation yet.

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The Fortune 500

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-02 10:48

Ah, springtime. Each year it arrives like clockwork with its trademark signs: ramps on the menu, crocuses peeking out of the ground, the anticipation of longer days and beach season. Another rite of spring for the past seven years — as long as I have been at Fortune — has been the preparation and release of the Fortune 500, the definitive ranking of America's largest companies. The 500 is our king of lists, for 60 years running the definitive ranking of the biggest in business in revenue, and it is our own biggest issue in every way: heft (390 pages this year), hits (millions of page views each year) and in bandwidth; it is a massive project drawing in almost all the Fortune staff in some way from early April until the end of May. I started at Fortune in April 2007, in the middle of the Fortune 500 close, and every year since I've been involved in some way or another. Over the years I've come to look forward to the day I get to first lay eyes on the top-secret new 500 list more than almost any other day of the year. That's because in its numbers lie telling data, revealing narratives, over-arching themes, countless stories of success and retrenchment, and so much more.

The 500 is first and foremost a measure of scale. Walmart, No. 1 this year, clocks in with sales of $476,294,000,000. That's twelve digits, six zeros and almost half a trillion dollars. We don't dip "down" into eleven figures until No. 23, IBM at $99.75 billion (work on the 500 long enough and the difference between $126.7 billion and $128.7 billion starts to seem amusingly meaningless).

But pull the camera back — waaaay back — and you can see a narrative of business by the decade: The list's first two decades were a testament to the sheer dominance of General Motors; the now-beleaguered automaker held the number one spot from 1955 to 1974 straight, and for all but nine years from 1955 to 2000 (you remember the saying — as goes General Motors, so goes America). Then came ExxonMobil, then an on-fire Walmart, which ascended in 2002 (we only started adding service companies in 1995). The last decade has been a two-horse race between Walmart and ExxonMobil.

Individual storylines play out on the list over the years: Apple has marched steadily upward since 2005, moving from No. 263 that year to No. 103 in 2008, No. 71 in 2009, to No. 35 in 2011, to No. 17 in 2012 to this year, landing in the top five for the first time. Sometimes whole industries ebb and flow in unison, like homebuilders (14 piled on in 2007, all fell off in 2010). Last year Facebook made the list for the first time. Today we welcome newcomers Coach, Blackstone and Alaska Air, and we bid adieu to Yahoo, OfficeMax and Pitney Bowes, among others.

You can also see in the 500 with vivid clarity what we all know to be true: the stunning surge in corporate productivity. This year the collective profits for the Fortune 500 crossed the trillion dollar mark for the first time ($1.08 trillion, to be exact). That's up 31.7 percent over 2012. But in the same time the group added only 180,000 jobs, an increase of 0.7 percent. (I have vivid memories of the financial crisis in 500 terms, too; in 2010, companies on the list shed a collective, and gutwrenching, 821,000 jobs.)

We often get asked who's No. 500 — that company teetering right at the edge each year that just barely hung on as we tallied up the totals. This year our caboose is United Rentals, a Stamford, Connecticut-based seller and leaser of commercial construction, HVAC and other heavy equipment with revenue of $8.8 billion. Hurrah United Rentals! Surely they're celebrating up in Stamford today. (At the same time, No. 501, Irving, Texas- based industrial machinery maker Flowserve, is likely plotting its strategy for knocking United off and taking its spot next year. Because hey, that's business.)

Speaking of celebrating, there's a final number that's particularly key to the Fortune team this year. That's 5, as in 5 o'clock today, when our entire staff will meet in a conference room to have a big official toast to the release of the list — as well as the launch of our newly-independent, brand-new website, Fortune.com. We've been working our butts off on both these babies for months.

Yes, the 500 is a killer set of numbers. But today, five o'clock will also be a quite valuable number indeed.

In Bowe Bergdahl's Release, As Many Questions As Answers

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 10:08

The release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five senior members of the Taliban has been cheered as well as criticized. A look at why the move has been so polarizing.

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91-Year-Old Woman Breaks Marathon Record

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 09:38

Harriette Thompson, a cancer survivor and concert pianist, on Sunday became the second-oldest woman in U.S. history to complete a marathon.

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Jacques Cousteau's Grandson Plans To Spend A Month Underwater

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-02 09:27

Fabien Cousteau and a crew of five headed down to the underwater laboratory Aquarius, just off the Florida Keys, on Sunday. He and his team intend to stay submerged until July 2.

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