National News

Can Africans Do A Better Job Of Peacekeeping In South Sudan?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:30

The perennially undermanned U.N. "blue helmet" peacekeepers could get a boost from a contingent drawn from neighboring countries.

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UN Committee Grills Vatican Officials On Sex Abuse

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

A U.N. committee has found that systematic sex abuse by priests in the Catholic Church amounted to torture. At the Holy See's first appearance before the committee, experts on the panel peppered the representative with questions. On Tuesday, the Vatican has a chance to respond.

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In Ukraine, West's New Diplomatic Options May Be Few

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is in Washington Tuesday for a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry that is likely to be dominated by events in Ukraine.

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White House Report Says Climate Change Is Here And Now

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

A new U.S. government report tells an unambiguous story: The planet is warming, climate change is driven primarily by people and it's already affecting Americans, through more frequent or intense heat waves, downpours and, in some regions, floods or droughts.

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Veteran Horse Trainer Sets Sights On Triple Crown

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

California Chrome won the 104th Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Melissa Block speaks with Art Sherman, the horse's veteran trainer, about his long career and the three-year-old colt.

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Alibaba IPO Could Be The Biggest Ever

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

Alibaba is the biggest e-commerce player in China. The Internet conglomerate is filing papers in the U.S. for what could be the biggest IPO ever.

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'The Heart Of Man Is Like A Mine': A Mendelssohn Mystery

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

A lost song that German composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote in 1842 has been found, but its sudden emergence is clouded in mystery. Why was it found in the U.S., and why was it never published?

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Report: Climate Change Creates Public Health Costs

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

Melissa Block speaks with Brian Stone, director of the Urban Climate Lab at Georgia Institute of Technology, about the public health effects of climate change.

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American Legion Calls For VA Secretary's Resignation

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

For the first time in decades, the American Legion is calling for the resignation of a secretary of Veterans Affairs, citing a string of scandals at VA facilities around the country.

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Despite Warnings On Warming, Public Response Remains Lukewarm

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

The National Climate Assessment was released today. NPR's Robert Siegel talks to Bill McKibben, author of Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist, about the report.

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With U.N. Chief In South Sudan, Warring Sides Agree To Talk

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:24

Who should send peacekeepers to South Sudan: the United Nations or the African Union? As violence continues, the U.S. is pushing for African troops to step in where the U.N. has failed.

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Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso stopped dumpster diving

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:23

The average rags to riches story doesn’t often literally involve rags and riches. But then, most CEOs probably don’t start their careers dumpster diving and spending afternoons haggling at thrift stores. That’s how Sophia Amoruso built Nasty Gal, an online women’s clothing retailer with $100 million in revenue.

Amoruso details her company’s rapid growth in her new book, #GIRLBOSS.

“I was always looking for my way, and often bumping into things,” says Amoruso on her early years as a "freegan" and sometimes shoplifter. She was usually employed but often bouncing from one job to another.

“I thought I was destined to smash capitalism,” she says. “It didn’t work. And I’m glad it didn’t.”

Instead, in 2006, Amoruso turned an interest in fashion into an eBay business at the age of 22. She used the auction website to sell vintage clothing under the name, “Nasty Gal” vintage. She thrived at using budding social media like MySpace to direct people to her eBay store and eventually launched her own website to sell directly to her customers.

NastyGal now has customers around the world and has expanded far beyond vintage. And about her earlier life philosophy? Amoruso says “the joke was on me.”

What happens years after a foreclosure

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:15

So you’d think that after a foreclosure, your financial slate would be wiped clean. You’ve lost your house. What else can happen? 

Actually, plenty. Lenders and debt collectors can still go after you for what you owe, years after a foreclosure.

That's what happened to Miranda Cisneros Bell and her husband Ed. They bought their dream home for $535,000, in Emmitsburgh, Maryland, about two hours north of Washington.  They put 20 percent down and got a jumbo loan for the rest. Cisneros Bell says they were nervous – what if they couldn’t sell their old house?  She says the realtor said, don’t worry.

“It was a basic push to get us in the house," Cisneros Bell says. "It was the trend of the times, to push people into things that probably they couldn’t afford."

Their old house didn’t sell. In fact, that’s where they live now, with Cisneros Bell's mother. They moved back in the fall of 2008. They couldn't make payments on their dream house and lost it to foreclosure in 2009. And then the letters started coming. Not from her bank, but from a debt collector.

She recalls thinking: 'It’s impossible... I don’t know who you are. You weren’t part of the foreclosure. So basically, who are you?'”

The debt collector, Dyck O’Neal Inc., says it bought her debt. But Cisneros Bell says she’s seen no proof of that and is fighting Dyck O’Neal in court. Dyck O'Neal says it would not comment on an ongoing case.

Cisneros Bell’s story is not unique. Many homeowners don’t realize that lenders or debt collectors can pursue them if their house sold for less than they owe. So, if you borrowed $200,000, and your house sold in foreclosure for only $100,000, the bank can come looking for that $100,000 difference years later.

Some states have been shortening the time banks have to claw back what’s still owed after a foreclosure. And the states hit hardest by the housing crisis are cutting back the most.

“Florida recently changed the law for pursuing a deficiency judgment from five years to one year,” says Avy Mallik, an attorney with the advocacy group, Civil Justice.

Maryland just shortened the time its bankers have to decide to pursue a homeowner to three years from 12. But banks in these states have argued that people took out these loans promising to pay them back.

“We are depository institutions, we’re insured by the FDIC, we’re lending our depositors' money, and we have to be able to have a reasonable expectation that we’re going to be repaid,” says Kathleen Murphy, head of the Maryland Bankers Association.

“I absolutely understand where these banks are coming from," says Mallik. “All we’re doing with the deficiencies is...trying to provide some finality with the statute of limitations and ensuring that it’s a level playing field for people who are trying to rebuild their lives."

Especially, Mallik says, since the playing field wasn’t level for many homeowners during the housing bubble and crisis.  Remember Miranda Cisneros Bell, the homeowner we met at the beginning of this story? Both the U.S. Justice Department and the Maryland attorney general’s office say her foreclosure was defective. 

From Humble Beginnings, A Powerhouse Fundraising Class Emerges

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:12

Women are far less likely than men to run for Congress. But when it comes to the hardest, most miserable part of campaigning — fundraising — women do just as well as men.

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Shelf vs. Script: Why Merck's offloading allergy pills

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:08

If you think a licensed pharmacist is the only real difference between NyQuil and Ambien, think again. The two are the product of completely different business models.

"Oh they’re very different," says Les Funtleyder, author of Healthcare Investing. "One is bulk manufacturing, one is heavy-duty R&D." 

That heavy duty research and development? $5 billion. That’s how much it costs to get a single prescription drug to market these days.

Why would Merck want to focus on that business?

"The return on investment is much higher in the prescription market," says JB Silvers, a professor of health finance at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management. He says Merck is well positioned with a strong pipeline of cancer and diabetes drugs. "If you can do well there with patented drugs that have protection against competition, you can pretty much charge what you want."

Not so in the world of allergy pills and arch support. The consumer drug market is all about competitive pricing and catchy advertising

"It’s a volume market, it’s like most retail," says Silvers. "You have a smaller margin, but if you sell a whole lot of it, you do really well."

That’s what Bayer does best. "Bayer is going to be able to leverage their global reach to take these products to places where they haven’t been sold before," says Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health

Mendelson says when it comes to branding, marketing and selling things like sunscreen and nasal spray, Bayer simply has a better machine.

Tweets from Rakesh Agrawal, but with Getty Images

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:06

Rakesh Agrawal, a former PayPal executive who "mistakenly" (who can really say?) tweeted some ridiculous and offensive statements about some co-workers, has become the star of his own Twitter soap opera written by his own hand. After Agrawal sent the corporate hate tweets, he apologized and blamed the messages on a new phone.

PayPal then announced, on Twitter of course, that Agrawal was no longer employed by the company and also gave us some wonderful life advice about treating each other with respect, which apparently PayPal felt the need to give the world:

Rakesh Agrawal is no longer with the company. Treat everyone with respect. No excuses. PayPal has zero tolerance.

— PayPal (@PayPal) May 3, 2014

After that, Agrawal sent out a series of messages that were hard to follow, especially without pictures. We searched Getty Images and our photo libraries to see if we could help visualize what is going on behind the curtain:

My guest list builds itself.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Tareq Salahi and Michaele Salahi on February 4, 2010.

How do I give equity to a three year old.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Laura Bush Hosts Annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

I am not hiring at the moment. Got a 100x team that will change the world.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Or things will escalate.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Your move Stan.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

 Executive producer Stan Lee arrives at the premiere of Marvel's 'Thor: The Dark World' at the El Capitan Theatre on November 4, 2013 in Hollywood, California.

Seriously I need no investors.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

China's Alibaba Files To Go Public In The U.S.

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:02

Alibaba is the largest online and mobile commerce site in the world, controlling a huge portion of the Chinese market.

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An ex-PayPal executive airs grievances (very) publicly

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:51

Rakesh Agrawal, a former PayPal executive who mistakenly tweeted offensive statements about his co-workers, later appeared to be doubling down on Twitter by threatening to make a former colleague’s text messages public.

“If you don’t stand up for me, I will start sharing your text messages to me,” Agrawal tweeted to a colleague he referred to as “Stan.” “Do the right thing. Your move, Stan.”

If you don't stand up for me I will start sharing your text messages to me. Do the right thing.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Sandra Crowe, author of "Since Strangling Isn't an Option,” a book about working with difficult people, says social media presents real pitfalls for companies.

“People who have a big need for power are going to be able to hold companies hostage,” Crowe said, adding that companies like PayPal can either ignore the tweets of an unhappy former employee like Agrawal, or fight back.

"You can make his reputation so bad in the tech world, that nobody will want to hire him, do business with him, do deals with him, and maybe not even email him,” Crowe said.

Of course, once an employee has been fired, or has resigned from a job, the former employer may hold little sway.

“The ability to extract any consequence is limited, because the individual no longer has the fear of losing their job,” said Stephanie Trudeau, a labor and employment attorney at the law firm of Ulmer and Berne.

Still, as much as this is an age of social media, it is also one of litigiousness. Trudeau says if Agrawal makes public messages that were sent to him privately, he could find himself facing an invasion of privacy lawsuit.

White House Will Let Senators Read Secret Drone Memo

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:20

The memo makes the legal case for the government's ability to target Americans abroad using a drone strike. The White House is hoping the decision will head off a confirmation battle.

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As States Vote In Primaries, Voter ID Laws Come Under Scrutiny

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:03

Voters in eight states are required to show photo IDs. Some experts say the tide is turning toward striking down ID requirements. Others say not so fast.

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