National News

Yoga May Help Overcome Fatigue After Breast Cancer

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 07:33

Cancer patients and survivors are told to exercise, but the disease and treatments can leave them with overwhelming fatigue. Yoga may be a gentle way to get moving, a study reports, with breast cancer survivors who did yoga saying they had less fatigue than women who did not.

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Frogs And Puffins! 1730s Menus Reveal Royals Were Extreme Foodies

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 07:26

A rare collection of menus detailing the meals served to King George II and his queen contain plenty to offend our modern, squeamish sensibilities. But the manuscript, which sold at auction Wednesday, also reflects bigger shifts afoot in how food was sourced and prepared. The result? Tastier British cuisine.

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State of the Union: Fact checking Obama on the ACA

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-29 06:24

"More than 9 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage," President Obama said during last night's State of the Union address. In a speech that touched on income inequality, wages, jobs, and the U.S. middle class, Obama touted his signature domestic policy achievement. But is that 9 million figure accurate?

You can slip into quicksand really fast, if you're trying to figure out just how many people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Technically 9 million is accurate. About 3 million people have enrolled through the federal or state health exchanges, and about 6 million have signed up for Medicaid, the program that's primarily for low-income Americans.

But -- and here's the thing to remember -- insurance isn't static. People are signing up, and re-enrolling all the time. So 9 million doesn't mean 9 million new people have signed up. Undoubtedly, some of those people, particularly those who signed up for Medicaid, are getting access due to the Medicaid expansion. But we don't know how many, and we won't know for several more months.

Another thing that's unclear is how many people who weren't covered before the Affordable Care Act was passed are covered now. The thought is that 16-17 million uninsured people will get coverage through the exchanges or Medicaid by the March 31 enrollment deadline. 

Earlier this month, a survey came out from McKinsey & Co. showing that only 11 percent of people who bought policies on the exchanges were previously uninsured. But those numbers are not confirmed.

Another goal of the ACA was, as Obama put it last night, protecting people financially so "if misfortune strikes, you don't have to lose everything." While the ACA does provide more consumer protections, Obama's assertion could use some context.

There are now protections like out-of-pocket maximums for how much you will have to pay if things get really bad. While the maximum for an individual is about $6,000 and about $13,000 for a family plan, caps don't apply if you see a doctor who isn't in the network included in the insurance plan you have.

We all know health care is quite complicated. And consumers -- especially people new to health insurance -- have to make sure they understand how it works.

If you bought Forever Stamps forever ago, you're getting a good return

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-29 05:45

It now costs 49 cents to send a letter. The price of stamps went up another 3 cents on Sunday, meaning that if you've been hoarding Forever stamps since forever ago, you've made a pretty good return. At least, that's what Allan Sloan, Fortune Magazine's senior editor-at-large, thinks. To listen to Sloan praise the virtues of the exotic financial instrument known as the postage stamp, click the audio player above.

Northwestern Football Players Want To Unionize: Is That OK?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 05:45

The players say they work hard and bring in millions of dollars for their school. They want the right to bargain collectively. The NCAA says that would "undermine the purpose of college: an education." Who is right?

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How the world heard the State of the Union address

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-29 05:30

Last night's State of the Union speech was all about the American perspective. President Obama focused on income inequality, wages, jobs, and the U.S. middle class. Marketplace Morning Report guest host Lizzie O'Leary checks in with the BBC's Andrew Walker on how the speech is being received in the rest of the world. ("Basically, a much bigger American story for the most part has been the death of Pete Seeger," he says.) Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

Farm bill would cut subsidies, but will it matter?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-29 05:24

After two years of debate and stopgap measures, we may finally have a new farm bill. The House of Representatives is scheduled to take up a compromise agreement today. The legislation includes a host of reforms to, among other things, food stamps and subsidies, but reforming subsidies might not save the government much money. 

For almost two decades, farmers have gotten what are called “direct payments” from the government -- that’s a check from Uncle Sam, no matter what.

“With direct payments, you got paid the payment even if you had great yields and high prices,” explains Art Barnaby, a professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University.

Last year, those direct payments cost taxpayers about $4.5 billion.

Crop insurance is one of the things that would replace those payments, and Bruce Babcock, the Cargill Endowed Chair of Energy Economics at Iowa State University, says that would be a big deal. “But it’s not clear that it is actually getting the government at all out of the subsidy business,” he adds.

That is because these payments would be tied to commodity prices, so they would fluctuate.  Taxpayers would save money when prices are high, Babcock says, “but if they fall significantly, we will be spending a lot more money on farm subsidies than we would have under the old programs.”

And when commodity prices fall, they don’t tend to rebound overnight.  Babcock says it’s likely we would face many years of high subsidy payments.

Will Nintendo ditch hardware?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-29 05:13

Nintendo announces third quarter earnings today and things aren’t looking good. The game maker already slashed its full year outlook -- instead of profit it now expects a net loss. You could say Nintendo’s facing an identity crisis. For thirty years, it’s made games you can only play on Nintendo hardware. But does it have to change to survive?

Every good identity crisis needs a foil. You know, that character who highlights your own weakness. Hamlet had Laertes (and Fortinbras and just about everyone else).

Nintendo has The Smart Phone.

“Because anyone who’s carrying a smart phone is carrying a mobile gaming device,” says Jeff Ryan, author of “Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America.”

Ryan and other analysts say Nintendo’s market has been eaten away by phones and tablets where casual gamers get tons of games free. Nintendo fans buy a dedicated console that only plays Nintendo games.

So, will the company make its games available on other platforms? Michael Pachter is a research analyst at Wedbush Securities, and he’s dubious.

“I don’t think there’s a chance that they’ll do that,” he says. “They should. But I don’t think they have any intention of it.”

Nintendo is making a strategy announcement this week. Jeff Ryan says they may try to play nice with other people’s software. But not how you think.

“People are trying to invite Nintendo to their party, but instead Nintendo is going to invite the other people to Nintendo’s party,” he says.

He thinks they may try to increase the range of games you can play … on Nintendo consoles.

.com gives way to .bike and .singles

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-29 05:07

There is about to be a huge land rush on the internet. Web registries -- companies and organizations that manage and market web addresses -- are unleashing approximately 1,500 new top-level domains, or TLDs, in the next eighteen months. The TLD is the set of letters to the right of the dot -- as in, .com, .org and .biz.

Now, get ready to add .singles, .guru, .bike, .plumbing, .ventures, .holdings and .clothing -- and that’s just this week’s crop. Addresses with those endings are being offered for sale starting today through venture-based domain-name registry Donuts, Inc., which is one of the biggest players in the new TLD space. Specific addresses will be marketed through registrars, such as Godaddy, 1& and eNom, according to Donuts’ website (which gives this explanation of the firm’s name: "We are nuts about domain names. We are donuts.").

JoeBike is a bustling high-end store selling bicycles, accessories and riding gear in Portland, Oregon. The owner is Joe Doebele, and initially, he expressed skepticism that a new web address ending in .bike would do him much good.

“Immediately, who would be looking at .bike?” he asked. “I’m not going to invest in a destination that people don’t even know exists.”

Doebele’s current website is -- which is pretty good from a marketing perspective. Dot-com addresses are the most popular on the internet, with more than 100 million registered, accounting for more than 75 percent of the total (which also includes .net, .org, .edu and other less popular extensions).

Within a few weeks of the initial launch of new top-level domains (during which prices for individual addresses can be set high by registrars selling them), individual web-addresses will settle at approximately $10 to $40 per year. Doebele thinks that would be affordable, making the url worth obtaining. If he did, he’d have a better chance of staking out his brand, and could use the new address to redirect to his current .com site, or to market to cycling aficionados -- if .bike ever catches on.

When a new TLD is first launched, though, prices can be high. Addresses in the .clothing TLD will start at $12,539.99 today, but decrease daily until they reach $39.99 on Feb. 5. Other hot TLDs with higher prices include .buzz and .luxury -- under which some addresses will cost several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars apiece.

By next year, there will be approximately 1,500 new TLDs, including in foreign scripts, and for major brands, such as .apple and .google.

Not everyone is convinced this vast expansion of internet domain names is worthwhile or wise for companies and organizations that depend on their current urls.

“I don’t think there’s a strong need for the additional extensions,” says Aaron Wall of SEO Book, an expert in search-engine optimization. “I just think it’s an easy way to build a high-margin business, if you’re the person that’s selling them and you’re good at marketing.”

Wall thinks many web-users will be confused by all the new endings, so they’ll keep clicking to the standard .com and .org addresses that they know and trust.

“There are going to be so many extensions at once, they’re all going to be competing for attention,” says Wall. “There are tons of names in .biz, .info; even .net and .org still have lots of great names available.” He cautions that small-business owners may be better off going after them, rather than the new untested TLDs.

Kieren McCarthy worked as general manager of public participation at ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the international nonprofit organization overseeing this massive internet expansion. He now follows internet policy at .nxt. McCarthy is convinced many of the new TLDs will catch on in the next few years, as kinks are worked out and the addresses get more familiar.

And he says these new, more specific TLDs will make it easier for people to connect to their communities and interests, and to find resources online.

“Basically now everyone still thinks .com is the internet or is the most important part of the internet, and from a purely logical, technical point of view, there’s no reason for that to be the case,” says McCarthy. “With all these new extensions, I think the internet will start reflecting our lives more closely.

“So if you run a bike shop or you’re just a bike fanatic you’ll say ‘well, I’ll get .bike’ rather than getting something .com. So it’s going to be a very, very different internet, where what comes after the dot simply reflects what goes on in life.”

McCarthy says new top-level-domains in foreign scripts like Cyrillic and Arabic will expand global use of the internet, and spread a wider sense of international ownership of the internet as well.

VIDEO: Congressman Threatens To Throw Reporter Off Balcony

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 04:51

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., didn't like a reporter's question. With the camera still rolling, he said he would throw the journalist "off this [expletive] balcony." Also, said Grimm, "I'll break you in half."

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Obama Showed A Deft Hand With Speech. Why Not With Congress?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 04:16

ANALYSIS: The president was brisk and confident during Tuesday night's State of the Union address. He also managed to avoid a remarkable array of issues that could have proved problematic. But he hasn't been nearly as adept at the less-dramatic business of dealing with Congress and the media.

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'Rush Hour From Hell' Drags On In Icy Southern Cities

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 04:00

In Atlanta, Birmingham and other places, people who got on the roads Tuesday afternoon still weren't home Wednesday. At many schools, students and teachers slept overnight on wrestling mats and classroom carpets. Forecasters got it wrong — the storm hit further north than they expected.

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Farm Bill Charts New Course For Nation's Farmers

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-29 02:00

The House on Wednesday approved a five-year compromise farm, signalling perhaps the final stretch for a two-year legislative battle. Because so much of the spending in the measure depends on enrollment in programs like food stamps, it's hard to know if it will save taxpayers money.

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Ancient Plague's DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-28 23:59

When you hear the words bubonic plague, the Black Death usually comes to mind. But the first plague pandemic happened 800 years earlier, when the Justinian plague wiped out nearly a quarter of the world's population. Scientists have decoded the bacteria responsible, which had roots in China.

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Archaeologists Unearth What May Be Oldest Roman Temple

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-28 23:57

The site in central Rome has also yielded evidence of how actively the early Romans intervened to shape their urban environment. But the excavation has been particularly challenging because the temple lies below the water table.

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Too Far, Too Complicated: Why Some Families Will Sit Out Sochi

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-28 23:56

Families of athletes normally make a pilgrimage to see the Olympics, but this year is different: The trip is more costly than previous games and, for many, more nerve-wracking.

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On The Plains, The Rush For Oil Has Changed Everything

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-28 23:55

Rough-and-tumble towns have popped up in areas once dominated by sleepy farming hamlets. Black gold has brought big-money jobs, but housing is expensive, crime has spiked, and water is running out.

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5 Things We Learned From The President's Speech

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-28 23:34

Much of what was in President Obama's fifth State of the Union address was signaled in the days leading into the speech. Even so, there were a few revealing moments.

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5 Things We Learned From The President's Speech

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-28 23:34

Much of what was in President Obama's fifth State of the Union address was signaled in the days leading into the speech. Even so, there were a few revealing moments.

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Inside The State Of The Union: What The President Proposed

NPR News - Tue, 2014-01-28 23:23

After a long spell of partisan trench warfare and gridlock, President Obama called for "a year of action" Tuesday. The changes he pitched were relatively modest, but he promised to move forward with or without the help of Congress.

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