National News

Proposed Retirement Advice Rule Has Worrisome Loopholes, Experts Say

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-21 01:07

The Department of Labor has crafted a proposed rule to better protect Americans saving for retirement. But questions are already being raised about how effective the new rule will be.

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Construction Of Giant Telescope In Hawaii Draws Natives' Ire

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 23:58

In Hawaii, a battle is going on over the future of a mountaintop. Native Hawaiians say it's sacred ground, but astronomers say it's the best place in the world to build an 18-story telescope.

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Solar Power Makes Electricity More Accessible On Navajo Reservation

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 23:57

The panels, funded by government grants, are helping thousands of tribal residents take advantage of the everyday luxuries enjoyed by other Americans — like turning on lights or storing food.

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What's At Stake If Supreme Court Eliminates Your Obamacare Subsidy

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 23:56

Each state has its own stories. In Louisiana, nearly 200,000 people signed up for health insurance through, and about 90 percent now get subsidies. What if that help goes away?

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Palm Oil Plantations Are Blamed For Many Evils. But Change Is Coming

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 23:55

In Indonesia, efforts are underway to grow palms in a sustainable way. But that's putting a squeeze on small farmers.

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National Guard Seeks New Mission After War

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 23:53

Indiana's National Guard is fighting to stay relevant after the base has quieted dramatically now that troops have come home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Norway Becoming First Country to Eliminate FM Radio

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 16:01

The switch from analog to digital radio offers more channels at a fraction of the cost, the government says.

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U.S. Navy Sends Aircraft Carrier To Coast Of Yemen

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 14:48

The move comes as fighting has intensified in Yemen between government forces and Houthi rebels allied with Iran. The U.N. has imposed an arms embargo on the Houthis.

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At 50 Years Old, The Challenge To Keep Up With Moore's Law

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 14:12

Gordon Moore's observation on the exponential improvement in hardware has pushed computers to be faster, smaller and cheaper. But there may be a point where tech advancements outpace the theory.

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Argentine Prosecutor Dismisses Accusations Against President

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:32

The prosecutor assigned to the case is considered closely associated with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. His decision essentially puts an end to the case against her.

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When Danish Cows See Fresh Spring Pasture, They Jump For Joy

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:27

Thousands of spectators gather every April to see ecstatic cows let out into fields on organic farms around Denmark. The organic industry says the event has helped fuel demand for organic foods.

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Federal Panel Revisits Contested Recommendation On Mammograms

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:08

In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said the benefits of mammograms for women under 50 were small at best. A firestorm ensued. Now the organization is back with the same message.

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Norway is the first country to kill FM radio

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:06

File this under: "Digital killed the radio star."

Norway says it's going to turn off its FM radio spectrum in 2017. You already know why, I'm sure.

The Ministry of Culture says going all ones and zeros will provide "access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality."

Also, it'll save the government $25 million a year.

Halliburton woes cause jitters in North Dakota

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:01

Scott Nyberg comes from a Halliburton family. His dad works for the oilfield services provider in North Dakota’s oil patch. So does Nyberg.

And his brother did, too, until recently.  

“It's unnerving. Made you a little nervous if you were next,” Nyberg says.

Halliburton, one of the nation's biggest oilfield services providers, took a hit in the first quarter of the year. Its profits dropped $643 million, thanks in part to a massive decline in oil prices, which has slowed demand for Halliburton's drilling services. Halliburton has responded to the slowdown by cutting 9,000 workers, some in North Dakota, the nation’s second largest oil producer.

Nyberg says Halliburton’s investment in his training soothes some of his fears of a layoff. The firm is sending him from his base in Williston, North Dakota. to Texas, where he’ll spend several months completing a training program. And unlike his brother, Nyberg has a mechanical engineering degree. He hopes that will help him stick around through the company's cost-cutting.

“There's still work to be had, and those who can endure and make those cuts and not just go belly up, will make it through,” he says. “And as bad as it is, when it turns around, there will be a mad rush of people to come back.”

But for now, the oilfield slowdown is spooking some workers, like Kevin Groener. He made a stop in Williston during a job scouting trip and quickly caught wind of layoffs around town. So he won't bring his girlfriend Billy Joe out for a look. They both need work.

“It's hard when you come out to an area like this and say, ‘Oh it's all going to be great and fine,’ ” he says. “I don't think I could grab Billy Joe here and make it great and fine.”

Why health stocks are doing so well

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:00

It’s a great time to own health stocks. In fact, over the past five years, the sector has outperformed most other industries.

via Morningstar

What’s driving the surge? Wunderlich Securities analyst Art Hogan says it’s easy as saying "ACA."

“Whether you are running a hospital, a doctor practice, a pharmaceutical company, there is more access to your product,” he says of the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to Obamacare, more than 11 million people are newly insured, which means a raft of new customers.

“Therefore, profitability in the healthcare sector is going to go with that,” says Hogan.

The health care law is just one source of success. Biotech firms are on fire, with saying those companies are up 18 percent this year, more than doubling the total sector. Bloomberg Intelligence Healthcare analyst Asthika Goonewardene says firms are developing innovative products.

“We are going through a phase where the science is very, very good. I don’t want to say you are guaranteed clinical success, but your chance of clinical success are really high,” he says.

Goonewardene points to Gilead’s highly effective hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi, which has generated more than $10 billion in revenue. A drug that helps patients, no doubt, but at $1,000 a pill, it’s expensive. It’s an issue that dogs big biotech blockbuster drugs.

“The question that comes to mind is, 'Okay, you are having all these great drugs come out. Who is going to pay for them?'”

That’s the big risk with these hot biotech firms. As a rule, Goonewardene says pricing questions send stock prices fluttering. And as companies likely deliver more powerful drugs, these questions will only intensify.

Google will prioritize mobile-friendly sites

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-20 13:00

Google is making a big change to its mobile search algorithm Tuesday. It will start giving priority to websites that it classifies as mobile-friendly, ones that have been designed specifically to work on smaller smart phone screens. This could have a huge impact on businesses that don't have mobile friendly sites. They will now appear lower on search rankings. 

And it’s not just small businesses that haven't adapted. Large companies including Nintendo, Versace and Kroger all have sites that Google has classified as not being mobile-friendly. 

Google announced the changes in late February to give websites time to redesign. Its announcement warned that this change “will have a significant impact on our search results.”

Meet The 'Accidental Activists' Of The Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Case

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 12:27

The legal battle over same-sex marriage hits the Supreme Court next week. It's an extraordinarily high stakes clash, but the men and women at the center of it see themselves as incredibly ordinary.

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In Northwest, A Push To Protect Forest As Geothermal Projects Near

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 12:26

The Forest Service is set to open more than 80,000 acres for clean, renewable geothermal power in Washington state. But environmentalists are worried about damage to streams and old-growth forests.

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Saudi Airstrikes Raise Doubts Abroad, Spark Patriotic Fervor At Home

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 12:05

Much of the world is skeptical about the wisdom of the bombing raids in Yemen. But Saudis are rallying around their new king, Salman, and his son, the defense minister.

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You Don't Want To Mess With An Angry Mother

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-20 11:59

Phyllis Omido's toddler had a mysterious ailment. After doctors came up with a diagnosis, she set out to shut down a Kenyan polluter. Now she's won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work.

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