National News

IMF, UN Staff Among 21 Killed In Kabul Restaurant Attack

NPR News - Sat, 2014-01-18 01:02

A suicide attack at a Kabul restaurant popular with foreign nationals killed at least 21 people on Friday, including a senior official with the International Monetary Fund and four United Nations employees.

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California's Governor Declares Drought State Of Emergency

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 17:27

Gov. Jerry Brown is urging Californians to cut their water use by 20 percent, and he's telling state agencies to conserve water – and to hire more firefighters.

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Federal Judge Says N.C. Ultrasound Abortion Law Is Illegal

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 15:29

The state's controversial law required women who want to have an abortion to first have an ultrasound scan and have it described to them. A federal judge calls the law "an impermissible attempt to compel these providers to deliver the state's message in favor of childbirth and against abortion."

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It's Happening: GOP Is Rallying Around Embattled N.J. Governor

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 15:22

The conservative base of the Republican Party, long skeptical of Gov. Chris Christie because of his bro-hug with President Obama after Superstorm Sandy, is beginning to rally to his side.

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Supreme Court To Decide If Warrant Needed To Search Cellphone

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 15:03

The U.S. Supreme Court is delving into the technology-versus-privacy debate, agreeing to hear two cases that test whether police making an arrest may search cellphones without a warrant. A decision is expected this year.

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Congress Vows To Step Up To Surveillance Policy Challenge

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 15:01

If there was a consensus from Congress after President Obama's NSA speech Friday, it was that Congress itself must play a major role to play in the ultimate fix.

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Obama Signs Trillion-Dollar Federal Spending Bill

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 14:40

President Obama has enacted more than 1,500 pages of legislation that will fund every federal agency. The spending legislation was approved in the Senate and House this week by wide margins.

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5 Takeaways From The President's NSA Speech

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 14:34

The president's speech Friday offered a revealing look into the nation's phone data collection program and the direction of the surveillance policy debate. But some of biggest controversies have been put off or pushed to Congress.

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Amazon's crazy-scary "anticipatory shipping"

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-17 14:22

This final note about Big Data and what companies know about us.

Amazon has won a patent for what it calls "anticipatory shipping," which is just what it sounds like: It's gonna start shipping you stuff before you order it.

The Wall Street Journal says Amazon will consider previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping-cart contents, returns and even how long your cursor lingers on an item.

Ask Carmen: Tips for choosing student loans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-17 14:21

Worried about your student loans? Businessweek reports that "outstanding student debt topped $1 trillion in the third quarter of 2013, and the share of loans delinquent 90 days or more rose to 11.8 percent, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York." All other types of debt is decreasing.

Student loan expert Heather Jarvis stopped by the show to give us a few tips on choosing student loans:

"Fill out the free application for federal student aid (at Whether you believe you qualify or not, whether it’s undergraduate school or graduate school, because that’s the foundation of all financial aid, including institutional aid or scholarships that a school might be able to provide. As well as all the different loan programs."

"Avoid private student loans. Because interest rates in the market are so low, private student loans might look like a good option, and they can be appropriate for people in certain circumstances. But they are in general, more expensive and risky than federal student loans. They tend to have higher interest rates that are variable and sometimes can go up with no cap. Focus on [federally-subsidized] Perkins Loans if you can qualify, then the un-subsidized Stafford loans. [When it comes time to pay loans], you’ll want to pay those that are more expensive for you and do not have a subsidy more aggressively."

Want more advice? Listen to the interview above, or check out our post: "How to get rid of your student loans without paying"

Chemical Company In West Virginia Water Crisis Files For Bankruptcy

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 14:16

Freedom Industries has been blamed for a chemical spill that left around 300,000 people without water for days. Last week, a chemical the company uses in cleaning coal leaked into the Elk River and into the public water system.

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They're telling junior bankers to work less, but will they listen?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-17 13:01

At 7 p.m. on a recent night on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan, men and women in suits are streaming out of JP Morgan Chase, UBS, and other big banks nearby – while delivery guys on bikes drop off food.

Those dinners are going high upstairs, where the lights are on, to analysts and associates, the junior bankers on the lowest rung, who might work hundred-hour weeks, hoping they'll pay off.

Three years ago, Saad Siddiqui used to be one of them. When he was 23, he worked at the bank RBS. After a couple months of training, he was assigned to Mergers & Acquisitions, one of the company’s most prestigious groups. They do big deals – and work long hours.

“There was a deal that came in on a Friday around 5 or 6 o’clock, and we had to make a bid for the company by Monday,” he recalls. “Which meant that we had to work basically around the clock till Monday. I left for a total of about three hours during that weekend."

Siddiqui says that wasn't always the norm. And that he learned a lot. And made money. But the grind was, well, grinding.

So he left for a job in tech. “I know a lot of analysts that go months without having a single weekend off. And after a while, you start losing your mind. And just need to get away from the office.”

Now the big banks are saying junior bankers have to get away from the office. They're banning Saturday work, or saying one weekend a month is protected, or even bringing on more staff to spread out the load.

The concern began last summer when an intern in Bank of American's London office died after an epileptic seizure. The coroner noted that his hard work may have been a trigger. The bank began reviewing its policies after his death.

Marketplace got a copy of an internal memo that went out last week. It says junior bankers must take four weekend days off each month. The memo also says the bank wants to support work-life balance.

But there's something else going on here, too.

“Right now, Wall Street is not the only game in town for really talented people,” says Anthony Rose, a former CFO at Credit Suisse, and now a professor at Columbia Business School.

He says some of his students are going to venture capital firms, or to Silicon Valley to work in tech.

“Technology now is a big driver,” he says. “People are starting to ask the question of, ‘What else do I get out of it?’ And what they mean by that is, ‘Am I going to have to work 120 hours a week, or am I going to have a chance to spend time with my family or friends?”

There's skepticism that these announcements will actually change the culture of Wall Street, where people come to make money.

“You have guys and girls coming out of school with huge debt and a focus on getting a job, when right now it’s the most competitive it’s ever been,” says Harry Youtan, whose company Phaidon recruits bankers for jobs.

“These guys, perhaps irrespective of the things implemented by the big banks – the Goldmans, the J.P.’s the Credit Suisse – they’re going to work,” he says. “They want to show their commitment, and they want to show their loyalty.”

And of course, there are older bankers to contend with, who came up in the old system and may not take to the new policies. What happens to protected weekends when a managing director drops a project on somebody's desk at 5 p.m. on a Friday?

“That’ll probably be the first real test of crunch time,” says Columbia’s Rose. “Deal’s on the table, this guys going out to the Hamptons for the weekend. I think that will be the first real test of 'How do you implement this?'”

If a big deal happens, that test may come earlier. After all, the start of the week on Wall Street goes by the nickname "Merger Monday."

A Newsprint Shortage Hobbles Venezuelan Media

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 13:00

Venezuela is running out of newsprint and newspapers are shutting down. Media outlets say that it's another form of harassment by a government that often doesn't like what independent media reports.

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In The Long Wait For Aid From Washington, Job Hunters Despair

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 13:00

After failing to agree upon an extension for federal jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed, Congress is vowing to keep trying. The help can't come soon enough for many of the 1.4 million unemployed who saw their checks suddenly cut off last month.

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Ruling May Mean Bankruptcy For New Orleans School System

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 13:00

An appeals court ruled against the New Orleans public school system this week — a decision that could bankrupt the Orleans Parish public schools. The five-judge panel ruled that the school board wrongly terminated some 7,000 teachers and other school employees after Hurricane Katrina. For more information, Melissa Block speaks with education reporter Sarah Carr, who has written a book on the changes to the New Orleans school system after Katrina.

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Jerry Brown Declares A Drought Emergency In California

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 13:00

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Friday, amid growing concerns about future water supplies for residents and for farmers. Brown called for a 20 percent voluntary reduction in water use and eased water transfer rights between farmers. However, mandatory measures will still be left to local communities to impose, for now.

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Christie Flies To Florida, Followed By Questions

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 13:00

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will visit Florida this weekend to raise money for Gov. Rick Scott, his first major fundraising trip as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The trip may answer some questions about how the scandal over lane closures at the George Washington Bridge will affect his path to the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

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Foreign Fighters Flood Both Sides In Syrian War

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 13:00

When peace talks open in Switzerland, one common concern between the West and Syria is expected to be the threat of Islamist extremists and the rise of al-Qaida-linked militias. Thousands of Sunni militants from around the world have joined the rebel groups in Syria, but there are other groups of militant foreign fighters who support the Syrian regime. Iraqi Shiites are being recruited in the thousands to bolster Syria's armed forces. Recruiting billboards and social media help portray the fight as an existential battle between Sunnis and Muslims.

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Week That Was: Smart Fridge Hack, Net Neutrality And The NSA

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 12:54

Your weekly roundup of tech headlines from NPR and publications around the country, including more credit card security breaches and the latest developments with the "Internet of Things." We asked what was in the hacked fridge, but — spoiler alert (pun intended) — we didn't find out.

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Tom Coburn, GOP Budget Hawk And Obama Friend, To Leave Senate

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 12:47

The Oklahoma senator, a leading conservative, will retire two years early. He's battling cancer but says his decision is based on serving his family by "shifting my focus elsewhere."

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