National News

Pentagon Relaxes Uniform Rules To Allow Religious Headgear

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 07:39

The new regulations would grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis for the wearing of turbans or yarmulkes, as well as beards or tattoos with religious significance.

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Vigilante groups on the offensive in Michoacan

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 07:17

Over the last few days, people in the southwestern Mexican state of Michoacan took matters into their own hands and pushed out members of a powerful drug cartel from their community. The situation is still evolving, and it involves a kind of vigilante movement that is happening in the state.

"It's basically a micro-civil war in Michoacan," says Leon Krauze, Univision anchor and host of Open Source on Fusion TV. " The cartels have become sort of a parallel state within the state, and that's just intolerable for for any government."

To hear more about the situation in Michoacan, click the audio player above.

 

Twin Toilets In Sochi: Some Wonder Why That's A Big Deal

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 07:14

It's a picture that's been swirling around the Web: side-by-side toilets in the men's room at one of the Winter Olympics sites in Russia. Should overly sensitive sorts just calm down? Or is this a symbol of an Olympics where much of the money has been figuratively flushed?

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The promise and pitfalls of expanded Medicaid

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 07:08

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is meeting this week in Washington, and among the many things on the agenda is the rollout of Obamacare.

Under the Affordable Care Act, many states have made it easier to get Medicaid, a move that will affect cities, experts say.

“It kind of casts a wider net of eligibility,” says Tom Carroll, a healthcare services analyst with Stifel Nicolaus. And that has boosted enrollment. One in five Americans is enrolled in Medicaid.

“It’s gone up by a significant amount already, and it’s just going to keep going up with each month that goes by,” says Mark Duggan, a professor of health care management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

According to Michael Sparer, chair of the health policy and management program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, this could have an effect on the economics of health care at the local level. Cities and local governments provide health care to the uninsured, “and they do this through public hospitals, public health clinics, and other safety net provider offices,” he says.

It will help cities and local governments, the more eligible Americans enroll in Medicaid.

“Either because they get additional reimbursement, as the uninsured become insured, or because their burden is reduced because perhaps formerly uninsured folks start to go to private sector providers,” Sparer explains.

But, it’s not all good news. There will still be Americans who aren’t insured, and because of other changes to Medicaid and Medicare, reimbursements are getting smaller.

In sickness and in wealth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 06:31

Let's face it, dating is hard. Everyone has their own criteria for who would make a good partner.  

A sense of humor, razor-sharp wit, a great face and for some … an excellent credit score.  

That's right, for some folks you'd better have a spotless credit history if you want a chance at romance. At least, that's what a survey from FreeCreditScore.com suggests. According to the survey, 75 percent of women and 57 percent of men consider a person's credit rating when searching for a potential mate, and a small number even said they ask about credit scores on the very first date.

There are websites that cater to those who are looking for credit perfection. The site CreditScoreDating.com allows members to screen dates based on age, height, location and yes, credit score.  The numbers are self-reported and unverifiable — unless you're willing to ask for a hard copy of credit reports on the first date. 

Although she doesn’t advocate asking about credit history on a first date, relationship and dating expert Andrea Syrtash says we shouldn't be surprised that sites like this exist.

"[Money problems are] one of the top reasons, we know, that couples split up, so of course credit scores are really important to know when going into a long-term partnership," Syrtash says. According to Syrtash, you shouldn't necessarily go into your financial history on a first or second date, but once you are committed the subject of money should no longer be taboo.

"You have to know if you're aligned on all kinds of values, money is certainly one of those values," she says.

Yet, even when money is considered to be important, not everyone feels comfortable raising the issue. "When communications breaks down, relationships break up. And money talk is part of that," Syrtash says.  

Whether you think asking for a W-2, two recent paycheck stubs, and a credit report while meeting for cocktails is prudent or just plain tacky, Syrtash has some simple dating advice: "Date the person, not the potential. You have to look at what the person is offering you now."

DOJ Alleges Fraudulent Security Checks By Firm That Vetted Snowden

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 06:31

Justice says U.S. Investigations Services, the company that cleared both the NSA leaker and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, expedited hundreds of thousands of cases that weren't properly reviewed.

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Arrivederci, Milan! Fiat-Chrysler coming to the NYSE?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 06:20

Right now, the place to buy stock in Fiat-Chrysler is in Milan, Italy. But Bloomberg is reporting that Fiat's boss is about to ask his board to move its primary stock business to the New York Stock Exchange. The BBC's Caroline Hepker covers Fiat-Chrysler, and tells Marketplace Morning Report about the potential move. Click the audio player above to learn more.

Sales Of Existing Homes Hit 7-Year High In 2013

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 06:00

There's more evidence that the housing sector has come out of its deep slump. The day's other key economic indicator: The number of people who applied for unemployment insurance barely changed last week. The pace remained near where it was before the economy slipped into its 2007-2009 recession.

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American and US Airways start code-sharing as a step toward unifying operations

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 05:55

American Airlines and US Airways are taking another step towards merging into a single airline. Each has started selling tickets on select flights operated by the other carrier, for travel starting today. It’s a practice called codesharing, which makes your partner’s flights look like your own. It’s just one step in a very long engagement.

Airline consultant Jay Sorensen says merging ownership was just the beginning of that engagement, "and at some point down the road, the engagement will come to an end and there will be the actual marriage.” 

But there’s a lot to do before the two airlines become one. Like codesharing. Sorensen says it should boost revenue, by increasing sales of connecting flights. People prefer not to change airlines mid-trip he says, “whereas a connection on the same airline is one step below a non-stop flight.” 

Continental and United waited until they were hitched to roll out certain benefits. But travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt likes that American and US Airways are breaking the process into manageable pieces.

“Like letting us use one another’s lounges,” Harteveldt says. “Then, a little bit of codesharing on certain flights between hubs. Then expand that. Then start selling flights on one another’s websites.” 

Soon you’re standardizing meals and all we all know what that means.

In the end, the new airline will take American’s name. All flights will be coded AA.

African-American hosts on Airbnb may make less on listings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 05:30

For many people, the rise and expansion of the “sharing economy” or “peer economy,” has made life cheaper and easier. The companies that facilitate this economy have allowed us to rent everything from apartments, to cars, to designer handbags. Proponents of the shared economy argue that it is both democratic and democratizing, but some companies may be replicating problems that exist in the traditional economy, according to research from two Harvard Business School professors who looked into Airbnb, a company that connects people looking to rent out a room, apartment or house, with those looking for a place to stay. 

Airbnb is popular for a number of reasons. In large cities, it’s often cheaper to rent a room in someone’s apartment than to stay in a hotel room. And for people who are turned off by spartan, cookie-cutter hotels and motels, staying in a real “home” is a plus. Renting from a stranger can be scary, but on Airbnb.com, a user profile comes with pictures of the property that’s open for rent, and often, plenty of detailed user reviews. Host profiles also come with a picture, and Airbnb requests that photo clearly shows the host's face.  

Ben Edelman, who co-authored a working paper entitled Digital Discrimination: The Case of Airbnb.com, wondered if the profile photo might open the door to discrimination, and wanted to examine, “the possibility that certain disfavored minorities, for example, African-Americans, might find it hard to rent their properties on Airbnb. If you’re a black person, you might find that you can’t get as good a price as [on] a similar property rented by another user.” 

Edelman and his co-author compared Airbnb listings in New York City, focusing on apartments of the same size, in the same neighborhood, that had similar reviews. They found that African-American hosts were asking for about sixteen dollars less per listing. 

Airbnb declined an interview with Marketplace, but issued the following statment: "We are committed to making Airbnb the most open, trusted, diverse, transparent community in the world and our Terms of Service prohibit content that discriminates. The data in this report is nearly two years old and is from only one of the more than 35,000 cities where Airbnb hosts welcome guests into their homes. Additionally, the authors made a number of subjective or inaccurate determinations when compiling their findings." 

Edelman isn’t accusing Airbnb of discrimination but wonders if the host photos have to be so prominent. 

“When you make a reservation to stay at the Marriott, you don’t have to attach a picture of yourself,” Edelman said. 

Tony Greenwald, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington who studies bias said African-American Airbnb hosts may be lower their asking price believing or knowing that their racial identity is a liability. Greenwald points out that African-Americans face bias in housing, employment, police profiling and other areas. 

Toni Blackman, an Airbnb host who rents out her two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn admits that she thinks she’s likely to earn less than a counterpart who is not Black.

“I’m also a dark-skinned African-American who is an artist,” Blackman said. “I’m combatting those two stereotypes.”

When asked if it works both ways, if she sometimes chooses from potential renters based on their photos, Blackman laughed.

“That’s a very real question,” she said. “Some friends of mine were joking about it. We all do Airbnb. I have a couple Black American girlfriends, White girlfriends, a Jewish girlfriend. We were all sitting there laughing, because we do.”

Many Missing After Massive Fire At Seniors' Home In Quebec

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 05:08

Flames tore through a seniors' residence early Thursday in a town about 280 miles northeast of Montreal. At least three people were killed. Early reports from officials on the scene indicated that as many as 30 more people had not been accounted for in the hours immediately after the blaze.

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In Ukraine, Protesters Warn They'll Go 'On The Attack'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 04:25

The clashes with security forces turned deadly Wednesday. Two demonstrators were reportedly shot and killed. The body of another was later found. Protesters have been demanding that President Viktor Yanukovych hold early elections. They've given him one more day to agree.

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A Different Kind Of Catholicism Grows In Latino Communities

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 02:00

The "Charismatic" movement involves worshipping with exuberance, miraculous healings, prophesying and establishing a personal connection with God — and the number of converts is growing. According to a recent survey by NPR, about one-third of Latino Catholics in the U.S. identify as "Charismatic."

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Spain Exits Bailout In A Sign Of Progress, Not Full Recovery

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 00:47

Spain's banking system is officially marking the end of its reliance on bailout loans from Europe — only the second eurozone country to do so. Although the banking system may be on surer footing, the overall economy — with youth unemployment pushing 60 percent — still has a long way to go.

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Spain Exits Bailout In A Sign Of Progress, Not Full Recovery

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 00:47

Spain's banking system is officially marking the end of its reliance on bailout loans from Europe — only the second eurozone country to do so. Although the banking system may be on surer footing, the overall economy — with youth unemployment pushing 60 percent — still has a long way to go.

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Hudson High Jinks: 2 States, 1 Port Authority, Lots Of Politics

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 00:43

The government agency at the heart of the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal may be little-known outside of the Northeast. But the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey controls a pot of money bigger than the budget of some states.

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Target Hack A Tipping Point In Moving Away From Magnetic Stripes

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 00:42

After the Target and Neiman Marcus data breach compromised credit card data of at least 70 million American consumers, the banking and retail industries are coming to a consensus to move away from the swipe and signature system to the much more secure chip and PIN process available around the world.

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7 Facts And 3 GIFs: Hellooo Curling

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 00:41

The Olympic sport of curling is a combination of bowling, bocce ball, billiards and chess — all on ice, and with some sweeping involved. NPR's Tamara Keith spent some time learning how to curl, and put together this cheat sheet.

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From The Trenches To The Web: British WWI Diaries Digitized

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 00:40

The British National Archives is posting 1.5 million pages of World War I diaries online. The personal accounts provide new insight into the lives of the troops who fought the war that began 100 years ago. "Everywhere the same hard, grim, pitiless sight of battle and war," reads one entry.

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Post-9/11 Panel Criticizes NSA Phone Data Collection

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-22 21:44

An independent panel created after the 9/11 attacks says bulk collection of billions of American phone records violates the letter and the spirit of the law.

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