National News

Superintendent: Reports On N.J. High School Prank Were 'Exaggerated'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 16:03

The prank became national news after 62 students were arrested. But custodians did not find urine in the hallways and most of the graffiti was done with water-based markers, a school official said.

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What to do when you can't pay for college

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 15:31

Saving for college is a priority for many parents, but sometimes life gets in the way. So what happens when your star student gets into his or her dream school and you can’t pay for it?

Ron Lieber, Your Money columnist for the New York Times, offers 8 tips to parents who find themselves in that position.

On what parents should do first

"For starters, you need to stop apologizing. If you have not been able to save anything for your child’s education, it is probably because you’ve been spending an awful lot of money along the way, making sure that child has a decent place to live, has a good school to go to, enriching activities and things for the family to do together ... If you’ve been doing a good job of that, your child is probably well-adjusted and is going to find a way to get to and through college on way."

On the importance of open and honest conversations

"We have a real problem, us parents in the world, around silence and money and families. And it happens for any number of reasons. Some parents want to protect their kids from however much money the family has, or the lack there of, and other people think it’s impolite to talk about money and politics. The kid needs to know where you stand. The kid needs to know how much money is available, how much money might be available, how much money the parents are able to borrow, willing to borrow. That conversation needs to start pretty early on in high school so the kid has realistic expectations. And so, I just think parents shouldn’t be keeping secrets by the time certainly a child is ready to apply for college."

On considering the 'gap year' between graduating high school and starting college

"College is wasted on most 18 year old's. It’s incredibly expensive. We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars a year spent on an 18-year-old who are cut loose from home for the first time often without many bearings or social survival skills on their own. And they’re sort of meandering through these very expensive schools for a year or two before they get their heads screwed on straight. Now, imagine a teenager who has taken a year or two off before college, they’ve gotten a sense of what life looks like in the real world and they come to the classroom with all of that experience kind of set to put it to bear on whatever it is they’re learning. They’re usually milking way more out of that first year than an 18-year-old would be."

"When it comes time to apply for jobs later, if you’re an employer, you’re going to look at someone who has taken a year or two off and gotten some real world experience a lot differently than you’re going to look at somebody who went straight through and maybe worked at a couple of day camps or scooped ice cream during the summer."

On why parents have trouble being honest about their financial situation

I think in the words of the great personal finance sketch artist, Carl Richards, money equals feelings and it evokes especially strong feeling here because we’re talking about our children and how we launch them into the world and whether we’ve done enough and whether we could’ve done more. And no matter how much we do, we’re almost always going to kick ourselves or question or second guess because these are the beans we put on the planet or cared for from a very early age and so it just makes a mess of your emotions. And the other tricky thing about this is that very very very few parents can actually save enough ahead of time to write a check for a public university tuition and room and board let alone a private school that now costs more than a quarter of a million dollars for four years. And so people get to the starting line when the student is a freshman in college and even if they have half the money saved they start to feel like well did we do something wrong. Did we spend too much on ourselves. And people are kicking themselves and they just need to stop. The system is what is it is and you have to muddle through just as best as you can.

On why parents have trouble in this situation

"I think in the words of the great personal finance sketch artist, Carl Richards, money equals feelings. And it evokes especially strong feelings here, because we’re talking about our children and how we launch them into the world and whether we’ve done enough and whether we could’ve done more. And no matter how much we do, we’re almost always going to kick ourselves or question or second guess because these are the beans we put on the planet or cared for from a very early age. And so it just makes a mess of your emotions."

"The other tricky thing about this is that very, very, very few parents can actually save enough ahead of time to write a check for a public university tuition and room and board, let alone a private school that now costs more than $250,000 for four years. And so people get to the starting line when the student is a freshman in college and even if they have half the money saved they start to feel like, 'Well did we do something wrong? Did we spend too much on ourselves?' And people are kicking themselves and they just need to stop. The system is what is it is and you have to muddle through just as best as you can."

A vast wasteland without Chandler Bing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 15:28
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 11:13

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's an extended look at what's coming up the week of May 5, 2014:

We ease into the week with Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Did you know that more beer is sold for Cinco de Mayo than for the Super Bowl?

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reports on international trade for March.

The season finale of the TV show "Friends" aired on May 6, 2004.

Also, if you see someone in need of directions or a restaurant recommendation, help 'em out. It's National Tourist Appreciation Day.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its monthly consumer credit report.

On May 7, 1824, in Vienna, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony premiered.

Let's get back to tourism for a sec. On Thursday, a hearing in the Senate looks at a plan to attract 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021.

On Friday, the Commerce Department reports on wholesale inventories and sales for March.

And on May 9, 1961, then FCC chairman Newton Minow referred to television as a vast wasteland. (Talk about a wasteland, it's been an entire decade since "Friends" was on the air.)

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014by Michelle PhilippePodcast Title A vast wasteland without Chandler BingStory Type BlogSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Blaze In Odessa Kills 31, Marking Escalation In Ukraine Crisis

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 15:20

According to local reports, a building was set on fire after pro-Moscow demonstrators retreated into it. Friday became the deadliest day since the ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

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Female breadwinners are rising

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 15:16
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 15:10 Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

A gay marriage supporter participates in a rally.

According to the Pew Research Center, women are not only enrolling and graduating from college at higher rates than men, but are also obtaining higher levels of education than men. And that could lead to higher salaries than men, too.

Farnoosh Torabi, author of "When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women," says the recession pushed many women into higher earnings brackets than their significant others. For some, those changes can cause tension within the relationship.

Torabi, who is the breadwinner in her own marriage, says money issues arise within most relationships because when women are the higher earners, there are more complexities. “Money has always been a point of contention in relationships, but when she makes more the stakes are higher. Money can sometimes wrongfully equal power and she’s holding the bigger paycheck it can easily make the man feel less than like he’s not providing [or] like he’s emasculated,” Torabi says.

Torabi says that open communication is the way to level the financial playing field and to address the emotions that arise when the woman makes more.  And the first line of defense for women is to “cater to the male brain,” she says.

 “Just as we women like to be communicated to in a specific way to feel engaged and to feel like we want to step up and help, men have a similar vocabulary they like to hear”, she says.

According to Torabi, being a female breadwinner not only carries financial responsibility, but women who are high earners tend to feel the need to be better homemakers. “As breadwinning women, surveys show that we actually take on more housework than women who make less. The domestic domain has been up until now, even still, led by women,” Torabi says.

According to the author, this is a recipe for disaster. 

“You can’t go through your life juggling work, focusing on the paycheck, and then coming home to deal with cleaning toilets. You’re going to burn out,” she says.

Torabi suggests that both partners that take on household duties in a way that feels equitable and for everything else she says “buy yourself wife.”

“It’s not about getting to 50-50 but how to feel you’re putting in what you feel is right and fair, and what your partner feels is right and fair. And whatever either of you doesn’t want to manage or take care of, how to outsource it affordably,” Torabi says.

Does it matter to you who’s the breadwinner in your family?  Email us or Tweet at us @LiveMoneyMarketplace Money for Friday, May 02, 2014 When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women Author: Farnoosh Torabi Publisher: Hudson Street Press (2014) Binding: Hardcover, 288 pages byInterview by Candace Manriquez and Lizzie O'LearySyndication PMPApp Respond No

Weekly Wrap: Improving job growth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 15:10
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 18:08 Alex Wong/Getty Images

A hiring sign is seen at a shop July 5, 2013 in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and John Carney from the Wall Street Journal join Marketplace Host Kai Ryssdal to review the week that was. Top of the list for discussion is the April jobs report.

Click play on the audio player above to hear the whole interview.

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014Interview by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title Weekly Wrap: Improving job growthStory Type InterviewSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Weekly Wrap: Improving job growth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 15:08

Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and John Carney from the Wall Street Journal join Marketplace Host Kai Ryssdal to review the week that was. Top of the list for discussion is the April jobs report.

Click play on the audio player above to hear the whole interview.

Are smart-toilets upon us? Sadly, no.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 14:24

The surveillance society appears to have gone just a step too far.

A company named Quantified Toilets announced this week it would be installing smart-toilets at the convention center in the city of Toronto, Canada.

To quote from their literature: "Using advanced sensing technologies and a state of the art centralized waste data collection system, we are able to discreetly capture data from each individual toilet. Activities at each toilet create unique signatures..." and, well it goes on.

It was also, sadly, a hoax. A sort of interactive experiment at a conference in Toronto this week about human factors in computing.

Making it to the 1 percent is more common than you think

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 14:11
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 15:09 John W. Adkisson/Getty Images

Han Shan, an Occupy Wall Street protester, makes a 1 percent shirt while protesting outside of the annual Bank of America Corp. shareholders meeting on May 9, in Charlotte, N.C.

The "1 percent" and the "99 percent" have become household phrases in the last few years. But in the course of moving discussions of income distribution percentiles beyond economic text books and in to the popular discourse of sound bites and protest signs, the nuances can get lost. Which brings us to some interesting new research about the 1 percent, discussed in a recent book called “Chasing the American Dream.” 

Back when the Occupy Wall Street movement was fond of chanting “We are the 99 percent” the book’s co-author, Mark Rank, got curious about some of the assumptions buried in that chant. Who exactly is the 99 percent? What’s their relationship to that remaining, increasingly notorious 1 percent?

The whole debate struck Rank as very us versus them. “There’s this image out there that those two groups do not cross over -- that they're static groups,” he says. 

Rank is a professor of social welfare at Washington University, and so he had the tools to see if this static image of the 1 percent versus everyone else was true. He and his co-author, Thomas Hirschl of Cornell, combed through four decades of survey data that followed the lives of thousands of Americans to see how much money they made each year.  And what they found surprised them.

The top-earners club isn’t quite the bastioned, unreachable world it's been painted out to be. “There actually is this really strong sense of fluidity in terms of folks entering the top income percentiles,” Rank says.  According to Rank and Hirschl’s research, one in five Americans are in the 2 percent at some point in their lives. And one in eight spend at least a year in the one percent.

So who are these visitors to the 1 percent? Some might be your neighbors.

Barrett Yeretsian, 34, lives in the southern California suburb of Glendale, CA in a totally non-descript condo — the same one he grew up in. Yeretsian says growing up, he was solidly middle class. His mom, a widow, owned an Armenian book store in Los Angeles, and money was sometimes tight. Scholarships and help from family got him through college at UCLA.

When he graduated, he turned down acceptance at two top law schools in favor of trying to make it in the music industry, as a song-writer and producer. After years almost making it, a few years ago, a song he wrote in his bedroom, became this smash hit, Jar of Hearts, after it debuted on the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

 

Literally over night, “everything changed,” Yeretsian says. Including his income.  That year he catapulted in to the 1 percent. But, he says, tries not to live like he has. “Keep the overhead low. Enjoy life,” is his philosophy. (He was a philosophy major in college, and traces his non-lavish lifestyle back to reading Thoreau’s Walden.)

“Don't get me wrong, I go to Hawaii every year,” he says. And he’s bought several rental properties as investments. “Financially, I’m in a comfortable position. I think that's the big difference is you have that comfort.” 

Jason Laan is another recent arrival to the 1 percent, who made the leap after his iPhone app made it big. For him, the surprising thing about being at the top is that it doesn't always feel like the top. 

“The 1 percenters we think of spend $10,000 on a commode,” Laan says. “If you make $340,000” — the approximate household income needed to break into the 1 percent in the last few years — “you're not going to waste money on something like that.”

Laan says the year he made enough to qualify as a “1 percenter,” he asked his accountant about whether he should consider trying to take advantage of tax loop holes or off-shore accounts, to protect some of his money. His accountant laughed and told him he wasn't rich enough.

“You’re not connected enough to try to hide your assets in such a way,” Laan recalls his accountant saying. “You can’t afford the overhead.” 

Another thing about the latest research on the 1 percent from Rank and Hirschl: While one in eight Americans might visit the 1 percent for a year, only one in a hundred stay there for a decade or more.

How much you have to earn in order to make it into the "1 percent" by year.

Year Household
Income (USD) 1967 171,737 1968 191,151 1969 193,437 1970 191,119 1971 200,383 1972 217,578 1973 226,942 1974 222,524 1975 213,235 1976 234,114 1977 217,740 1978 229,473 1979 228,014 1980 222,287 1981 216,483 1982 211,998 1983 219,320 1984 235,775 1985 229,477 1986 240,388 1987 254,770 1988 277,464 1989 257,154 1990 257,815 1991 248,205 1992 262,715 1993 333,888 1994 308,292 1995 301,423 1996 320,269 1998 364,160 2000 440,253 2002 363,702 2004 362,315 2006 379,511 2008 376,608 2010 332,300

Source: Mark R. Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl, Is it just the One Percent, or is Affluence a Normal Life Course Event?, Cornell Univeristy

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014 Krissy Clark/Marketplace

Barrett Yeretsian sits in his condo. Yeretsian was catapulted into the 1 percent after a song he wrote, Jar of Hearts, debuted on the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

by Krissy ClarkPodcast Title Making it to the 1 percent is more common than you thinkStory Type News StorySyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

Wages are flat now, but maybe not for long

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 13:59

Some very good news out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics today: There were 288 thousand jobs added in the last month, more than many people expected. Unemployment is now down to 6.3 percent. Of course down is not the same as low, but there was one piece of information that was not changed – earnings. Wage growth did not move over the month. 

Over the past 12 months by several measures wages have grown about two percent. On the other hand, inflation has run around 1-1.5 percent. Since inflation devalues wage growth, real wages have increased very little. Ideally, inflation would be near two percent, and wage growth a percent or two above that. 

Despite March-April’s flat numbers, the two percent growth over the year has marked an improvement.    

The economy may be in the process of early movement in that direction. The more jobs are created, the less workers are trapped in jobs that don’t offer raises, and the more employers will be pressed to raise wages to remain competitive.

This Hamster Gets To Eat Two Tiny Burritos

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 13:44

Do your pets eat better than you? A hamster with a taste for Tex-Mex food gets to feast on homemade burritos, courtesy of his very own chef.

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Marketplace Tech gets musical

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 13:30
Monday, May 5, 2014 - 04:00 Holly Andres

Merrill Garbus, lead singer of tUnE-yArDs, stops by to talk about her latest release, "Nikki Nack"

When you ask someone about their favorite piece of music, the conversation gets personal. Everyone feels music differently -- that's what makes it human.

It's why music and technology, at least to some people, seem like a mismatch. Machines are cold. Music is not. 

Here's the thing: We use technology to make music all the time. No, I do not count the auto-tuned antics of Glee tracks released on iTunes. I'm talking about musicians using technology to compose, create, and record music. It's a relationship that gets deeper and more complex all the time. The place where music and technology cross paths is a fascinating intersection.

All this week, we'll talk to musicians for whom tech is an integral part of their process. From Squarepusher, who wrote an entire EP of music played by robot musicians, to Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, who turns herself into a one-woman percussion instrument using loops and drum machines. We'll also talk to prolific film composer John Powell about his recording process for film, and electronic musician/composer Dan Deacon about why the computer is the biggest diva he's ever worked with (and why it has a right to be). DJ Rekha, credited with bringing Bhangra music to America, talks about the technology involved in being a DJ, and how it has evolved over time.

These are musicians and performers at the top of their game who constantly ask themselves how technology can help them be better at what they do, but also wonder how far is too far when it comes to letting machines take over. Each of these guests have funny and insightful comments to offer.

So plug in your keytar, boot up your computer, and let's get to playing with machines.

Marketplace Tech for Monday, May 5, 2014by Ben JohnsonStory Type BlogSyndication PMPApp Respond No

Want A Shot At $10,000? Solve Kentucky's Great Bourbon Mystery

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 13:16

Toasting the Kentucky Derby with a shot of prized Pappy Van Winkle bourbon will cost you. Last fall, 222 bottles were stolen straight from the distillery, and the police still don't know who did it.

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With Truce, Syrian Regime On The Verge Of An Important Gain

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 13:11

Rebels say they have agreed to retreat from some areas they control in Homs, a city once known as the capital of the revolution.

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Spider-Man vs. the box office

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 13:07

The new Spider-Man sequel has a lot riding on it for Sony Pictures. It sets up two spin-off movies, plus the third and fourth installments of the franchise.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has already earned more than $150 million overseas. But critics have hammered the flick in the U.S.

“I think Sony is hoping that this movie will gross a billion dollars. And I don’t think that’s going to happen,” says Jeff Sneider with the entertainment news website, TheWrap.com.

He describes the new movie as “the worst Spider-Man movie that I have personally seen.”

Other fans may shy away because of superhero overload.

“Part of it just might be some amount of fatigue from the audience. This is going to be the fifth Spider-Man movie in 12 years,” says Albert Ching, an editor at Comic Book Resources.

And if audiences aren’t happy, investors won’t be either.

Sneider says, “Sony has come under fire from its investors, namely Daniel Loeb, who’s like a big hedge fund guru.”

If The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t clobber the competition, expect that fire from investors to heat up.

Georgia latest state to drug-test welfare applicants

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 13:01

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal earlier this week signed legislation that will require some people applying for Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) benefts to submit to drug testing. Georgia is one of more than a dozen states proposing - or trying out - laws that require welfare recipients or applicants to take drug tests. 

Governor Deal's Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Robinson said in a statement to Marketplace: 

"Governor Deal has said drug abuse poses a major barrier to getting and keeping a job. He understands that many users are suffering from the disease of addition. He believes we as a state have a duty to help those who want to help themselves by providing an option for treatment. He's also led on diverting people with drug addictions out of the criminal justice system into treatment programs with strict accountability so that people are able to be taxpayers instead of being tax drainers. But if people choose to reject treatment and choose a lifestyle that renders them unemployable, taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize that."

But in some cases, drug testing does not appear to be catching many drug users.

"In Oklahoma, 29 people out of 1,300 were denied benefits," said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a policy coordinator at the Center for Law and Social Policy. "And then Utah. Twelve people out of 4,730." 

Advocates of the testing say the low numbers are likely due to deterrence. 

"By having the testing requirement in place, you screen out individuals who have a drug addiction who never go through the process to begin with, because they know they won't recieve benefits," said Tarren Bragdon, CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank.

Lower-Basch isn't certain that deterrence is the best thing for needy families. 

"These are very poor families and they have children," Lower-Basch said. "You don't want to scare them off and not getting help. You want the kids to get help so they can have clothes and housing. And you want the parents getting treatment so they can get jobs and be better parents. Scaring them off is a terrible outcome."

Many welfare researchers say drug tests are sometimes necessary. However, mass testing can also cost a state money. In 2011, Florida required welfare recipients to pay for their own drug tests. More than 97% passed and the state had to reimburse them to the tune of more than $100,000.

Map of 2012 Legislative Proposals to Screen for Drug Use Among Welfare Recipients

Courtesy of National Conference of State Legislatures.

New Anonymous Facebook Login Hides Info, But Not From Facebook

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 12:51

Facebook has introduced a way for users to log into apps anonymously as a way to build trust and protect privacy. User info would be protected from app developers, but visible to Facebook.

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FBI Director: Radicalization Of Westerners In Syria Is Of Great Concern

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 12:49

"All of us with a memory of the '80s and '90s saw the line drawn from Afghanistan to Sept. 11," says James Comey.

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MERS Virus Comes To U.S., But Risk To Public Is Deemed Low

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 12:27

An American health care worker who worked in Saudi Arabia is the first confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in this country. Health officials are concerned but not panicked.

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Deaths And Downed Helicopters In Eastern Ukraine Offensive

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 12:13

The Ukrainian government says it has begun an operation to retake the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk from pro-Moscow militants. Militants there have already shot down two government helicopters.

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