National News

'Is it just me, or are we raising campaign money earlier?'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 15:28

Hillary Clinton has not declared her candidacy for 2016. 

 That, of course, has not stopped Priorities USA Action – the largest liberal SuperPAC – from fundraising for her campaign.

 If you are shocked, don’t be.

 “We’ve had a permanent campaign for many, many years. Really, decades,” says Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia.

But even if fundraising isn’t happening any earlier, there is more pressure to get organized sooner. In part, that’s because outside groups or ambitious billionaires can throw money into a race at any time.

Bob Biersack, senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, says you basically have to have your guard up. “In a world where one or two people can decide they really want this [or that] person to be the next president, and they’re going to invest tens of millions behind that effort, and that can come at any time, you can’t afford to wait,” he says.

What about the amount of money that’ll be spent in 2016? Candidates in 2008 spent $1.7 billion, in 2012 they spent just over $2 billion. Sabato say there are a few things that may push 2016 to break a new record.  

“With every additional cycle you have new technologies that have to be funded,” Sabato says. For example, Obama pioneered voter data mining and tracking technology in ’08 and ’12, now every candidate will feel they need that.

But, Sabato says, "they don’t do away with the television advertising, they still have all of that and the radio advertising and the direct mail and the polling and everything else they do.”

 Still, there is a limit to how much campaign spending can grow, and Steve Ansolabehere, professor of government at Harvard, thinks we’re reaching it. “In general, over the long stretch of American history, the amount of money that goes into campaigns tracks with the amount of money in society, the real GDP.”

 So the $3 billion presidential race may be a ways off.

Study: Upward Mobility No Tougher In U.S. Than Two Decades Ago

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 15:20

Contrary to widespread belief, it's no harder to climb the economic ladder now than a generation ago. But the study did find that moving up that ladder is still a lot harder in the United States than in other developed countries.

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Ukrainian economy goes from bad to worse

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 15:10

Vice President Biden got on the phone today with Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich.

The vice president said there would be "consequences" for the U.S.-Ukraine relationship if the violence and protests in Kiev continued. Demonstrations have been going on for months now.

David Stern is the BBC correspondent in Ukraine.

He says no matter what shakes out politically in Kiev, the economic damage has been done:

"It's difficult to see how they can extract themselves out of this situation. What Mr. Yanukovich seems to have done with his deal with Russia where he got $15 billion in prospective loans and also cheaper gas is to have fended off an economic disaster. And I've been told it was possibly just weeks away. Now he's managed to buy himself a little bit of breathing room. But he's definitely not bought himself a successful economy. Ukraine is in recession right now. It doesn't look like it's going to get out. And the turbulence doesn't make it look like a very (economically) attractive place. But let's be honest, if the turbulance wasn't there it wouldn't be that attractive of a place."


In Seattle, No Simple Answers For A Stalled Tunneling Machine

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 15:05

Bertha, the world's largest underground boring tool, ground to a halt late last year as it was tunneling under the city. Authorities still aren't sure what happened.

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How To Follow The Sochi Olympics On Twitter

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 15:04

Have a favorite Olympic team? We've made it easy to follow all of the athletes on Twitter.

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The Edge: NPR's Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Blog

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 14:52

During the 17 days of the Olympics, we'll bring you the most interesting things we see and learn – and we hope you tell us what you're seeing, too.

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Rat-Infested Ghost Ship Might Be Heading For U.K.

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 14:49

The 300-foot Lyubov Orlova snapped its towline a year ago while en route to the scrapyard. The ship could contain hundreds of rats that have been eating themselves to survive.

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Actually, not much has changed about American economic mobility

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 14:10

There has been rare bipartisanship in Washington lately over the need to regain economic mobility in the United States. But a new study out of Harvard suggests those politicians are wrong – mobility hasn’t really changed much in the past few decades.
The study is part of the Equality of Opportunity Project, which is based on tens of millions of anonymous tax records. 

“The level of mobility throughout the past thirty or forty years or so has not been very high compared to most other developed countries,” says Harvard economist Raj Chetty, one of the co-authors of the study.

“We should be quite concerned about mobility in a society with a lot of inequality, because kids who don’t get a chance to move up in the income distribution are really getting left behind in today’s economy.”

And while his study found that mobility hasn’t changed much in the U.S., the rise of inequality is very much a concern. “If you’re born to a high income parent verses a low income parent, that’s going to generate a wider difference in your income level as a child today than it did 30 years ago, when we had a more equal society.”

The study found that geography mattered when it came to the rate of mobility – certain cities had more than others.

But Chetty says there’s still more research to be done: "We don’t know exactly what that secret sauce is."

Virginia Gay Marriage Shift Generates Sharp Response

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 14:04

Less than two weeks after taking office, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced he won't defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Critics contend he's ignoring the will of a majority of state voters who passed the ban in 2006.

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Snowden: Coming Home 'Not Possible' Under Whistle-Blower Laws

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:46

Current laws, Edward Snowden said in an Internet chat, mean he would not receive a fair trial. Unless they change, he will stay in exile, the former contractor for the National Security Agency said.

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Potential Carcinogen In Colas Has FDA Reviewing Data

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:46

A new study from Consumer Reports finds varying levels of 4-MEI –listed as a carcinogen in California — in popular sodas. The chemical is created during the manufacturing of caramel color used to dye sodas brown. Coke has reformulated its sodas to bring down levels, but Pepsi is still transitioning.

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Raised In The U.S. And Coming Out To Immigrant Parents

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:34

Latin American immigrants have different attitudes toward homosexuality than do their U.S.-born children, according to a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Retailers Can Wait To Tell You Your Card Data Have Been Compromised

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:27

The data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus raised questions over how quickly companies are required to disclose that customer information was hacked. The rules around when a retailer is required to tell you that your data got into the hands of fraudsters vary state by state.

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Indian Village Elders Accused Of Ordering Gang Rape

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:22

A series of horrific cases have focused international attention on gang rapes in India. The latest case has a particularly sinister twist because it was allegedly punishment for a woman involved with a man from another community.

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Texas Issues Tough Rules For Insurance Navigators

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:14

The insurance commissioner in Texas has toughened regulations covering the workers helping people sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Texas officials say the regulations are needed to protect consumer privacy. Supporters of the health law say they're an attempt to thwart Obamacare.

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After 20 Years, Transgender Inmate Is A Step Closer To Surgery

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:00

Last week, a federal appeals court in Massachusetts ruled that convicted murderer Michelle Kosilek has a right to gender reassignment surgery "even if that treatment strikes some as odd or unorthodox." State officials are weighing whether to keep fighting a battle that critics say has gone too far.

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At The Barricades In Kiev, A City Seethes

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:00

Robert Siegel interviews journalist David Stern, who reports from the barricades created by protesters in Kiev. He describes the scene, as well as what the protesters are demanding from the Ukrainian government.

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Weed Grows On The White House — And Many Americans, Too

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:00

Weed has grown on President Obama. In a recent New Yorker profile, he described marijuana as a bad habit, a personal vice but no more dangerous than alcohol. This marks a shift from the stance that he had once held and the position voiced previously by the U.S. drug czar. The president's current ambivalence on marijuana may mirror the feelings held by many Americans.

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Privacy Board Recommends Eliminating NSA Phone Record Program

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:00

A report released Thursday by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board recommends that the National Security Administration's bulk phone record program be eliminated. The report finds that not only is the program illegal, it's also ineffective. These findings come less than a week after President Obama called for keeping the program, but only after making some changes.

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China Sends 500 Million Users On An Internet Detour

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 13:00

For up to eight hours on Wednesday, some 500 million people in China could not get web pages to load. It was an outage of epic proportions, which immediately spawned chatter and headlines wondering what exactly happened. The working theory right now? Rather than blocking websites, as intended, Chinese Internet restrictions actually redirected users to those same sites. For more information on the outage, Melissa Block talks to New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth.

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