National News

Kazakhstan Accepts 5 Long-Held Detainees From Guantanamo

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 20:28

The release of two men from Tunisia and three from Yemen brings the prison population at Guantanamo to 127, according to a Pentagon statement on Tuesday.

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Who's the real-life inspiration for L.A. noir?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-30 13:56

Who was Samuel Marlowe? That's something Los Angeles Times writer Daniel Miller spent a year trying to find out. 

A Jamaican immigrant, Marlowe fought in World War I. After settling in Los Angeles, he became one of California's first African-American private detectives, frequenting the speak-easies of 1930s L.A. and getting private investigative work from the Hollywood studios.

If Marlowe is starting to sound like a real-life noir character, it's because he probably is. Miller thinks Marlowe was friends with LA noir writers Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, whose novels seem to immortalize him in fiction.

"One of the best examples is a claim that Dashiell Hammett sent an early draft of a story called 'Night Shade' to Samuel Marlowe," Miller says.

But Miller's detective work on Marlowe ultimately has no conclusion. Many of the records that might have proven when Marlowe started as a PI are lost, and Hammett and Chandler aren't around to reveal their artistic inspirations.

As Miller says "Noir stories, they don't always end tidily, with all the loose ends tied up." 

Beyond Free Lunch: Schools Open Food Pantries For Hungry Families

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 12:42

Over 8 million American children don't get enough to eat. In Sacramento, one school is helping families cope with hunger by sending students home for the weekend with a backpack of groceries.

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Comcast-Time Warner Deal Tops A Year Of Corporate Mergers

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 12:20

This was a big year for corporate mergers, with $3 trillion worth of deals announced worldwide. Analysts say the strong acquisitive trend is expected to continue into next year.

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Common Core Repeal, The Day After

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 12:20

The Common Core had a rough year. The learning standards were repealed in three states, including Oklahoma. But what happens the day after a state repeals its academic standards?

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Hangover Helper: Tips To Prevent A Horrible Headache

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 12:01

Champagne and other booze flow freely New Year's Eve. But if you want to wake to a new year without the side effects of alcohol, don't fret: Science offers some guidance.

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U.N. To Vote On Palestinian Resolution To End Israeli Occupation

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 11:51

But the proposal faces strong opposition — and a veto — from the U.S. in the Security Council. The Palestinian plan calls for, among other things, an end to the Israeli occupation by late 2017.

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Tribute: The Man Who Linked Climate Change To Global Health

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 11:06

Dr. Tony McMichael was a lonely crusader. He wanted governments to pay attention to ways that earth's changing climate will affect the health of all — with the poor likely to suffer the most.

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Fuhu: The company that grew 158,000 percent in 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-30 11:00

Fuhu, maker of the Nabi tablet for kids, is growing fast.

"Last year, I would estimate it at 158,000 percent growth," says Fuhu CEO Jim Mitchell. "When a company is growing this fast, you're constantly running and you're running at full speed," he says. 

But Mitchell and Fuhu co-founder Robb Fujioka say they don't want their company to lose its entrepreneurial spirit, its startup mentality amid all the expansion. 

"When you look at big corporations, they are really made to have measured growth and to have measured losses. We're not really built that way," Fujioka says.

And there's another way Fuhu differs from your everyday corporation: Its conference room.

"In the middle, instead of an open space, it's a big ball pit, with thousands and thousands of red balls that you might see, like, if you were at a McDonald's or something like that," Mitchell says.

Fujioka's son came up with the idea for the ball pit idea and, in the end, it made sense for the company to get playful with its conference room. With the ball pit, Fujioka says he wants to, "remind everybody that they're in a company that was made for kids."

 

Fuhu: The company that grew 158,000 percent in 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-30 11:00

Fuhu, maker of the Nabi tablet for kids, is growing fast.

"Last year, I would estimate it at 158,000 percent growth," says Fuhu CEO Jim Mitchell. "When a company is growing this fast, you're constantly running and you're running at full speed," he says. 

But Mitchell and Fuhu co-founder Robb Fujioka say they don't want their company to lose its entrepreneurial spirit, its startup mentality amid all the expansion. 

"When you look at big corporations, they are really made to have measured growth and to have measured losses. We're not really built that way," Fujioka says.

And there's another way Fuhu differs from your everyday corporation: Its conference room.

"In the middle, instead of an open space, it's a big ball pit, with thousands and thousands of red balls that you might see, like, if you were at a McDonald's or something like that," Mitchell says.

Fujioka's son came up with the idea for the ball pit idea and, in the end, it made sense for the company to get playful with its conference room. With the ball pit, Fujioka says he wants to, "remind everybody that they're in a company that was made for kids."

 

Fuhu: The company that grew 158,000% in 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-30 11:00

Fuhu, maker of the Nabi tablet for kids, is growing fast.

"I think last year, I would estimate it at 158,000 percent growth," says Fuhu CEO Jim Mitchell. "When a company is growing this fast, you're constantly running and you're running at full speed," he says. 

But Mitchell and Fuhu co-founder Robb Fujioka say they don't want to see their company lose its entrepreneurial spirit, its startup mentality amid all the expansion. 

"When you look at big corporations, they are really made to have measured growth and to have measured losses. We're not really built that way," Fujioka says.

And there's another way in which Fuhu differs from your everyday corporation: their conference room.

"In the middle, instead of an open space, it's a big ball pit, with thousands and thousands of red balls that you might see like if you were at a McDonalds or something like that," Mitchell says.

It was Fujioka's son who came up with the ball pit idea, but, in the end, it made sense for the company to get playful with their conference room. With the ball pit, Fujioka says he wants to, "... remind everybody that they're in a company that was made for kids."

 

Estimating costs and benefits of the auto bailout

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-30 11:00

Remember the 2008 auto bailouts?  The Treasury Department is just now closing the books on the controversial chapter by selling its last remaining stake in Ally Financial Inc., formerly known as the auto-lender GMAC.

President Obama has hailed the official end of the auto bailout as a roaring success, claiming that taxpayers recouped the $60 billion loaned out under his administration. The Treasury’s final reckoning, however, shows the bailout cost taxpayers about $9 billion, out of a total investment of around $80 billion between Presidents Bush and Obama.

But some say simply looking at money spent vs. money returned is not accurate.

“The cost of doing nothing was not free, and that’s not taken into account in the government’s $9 billion number,” says Kristin Dziczek, a director at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. Had the government let GM and Chrysler go belly up, she says, taxpayers would be out much more than $9 billion in the form of unemployment payments and decreased tax revenue.

Dziczek says the government-led bankruptcy and bailouts ultimately saved about a million jobs and helped the companies get back on their feet much faster. 

But others say simply labeling the bailout a “success” based on the fact that GM and Chrysler are now turning profits also misses the mark. “If you call a bailout a success, then it becomes a viable option next time, and the debate over whether or not to engage in it will be stunted,” says Dan Ikenson, a trade economist at the Cato Institute, a free-market think tank.

Ikenson says the bailouts effectively robbed Ford, Honda and other automakers of the spoils of capitalist success, and that future bailouts will likely follow.

Economists might have a sense of humor after all

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-30 11:00

Economists have a reputation for being a relatively serious lot. But maybe it's time to rethink that stereotype.

At next week's meeting of the American Economics Association in Boston, there will be a panel called the 7th Annual AEA Economics Humor Session.

Among the papers that'll be presented is one titled "A Few Goodmen: Surname-Sharing Economist Coauthors." It's written by four non-related economists ... all with the last name Goodman.

"Our main contribution is showing that such a collaboration is feasible," they write. 

Why AirAsia insurance payouts could vary

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-30 11:00

The CEO of AirAsia today pledged compensation for the persons aboard flight 8501, but the amount that families of the deceased will receive could vary widely.

Indonesia has not signed the newest aviation convention setting updated payouts for deadly air disasters, so if a person's ticket starts and ends in Indonesia – where the flight took off from – the grieving family could receive less.

In reality, airlines can pay what they see fit. Very often, they make initial payouts within the first two weeks to cover funeral and other up-front family expenses.

Robert Jensen, of Kenyon International Emergency Services, says most airlines have agreed to a minimum payment, typically about $25,000. He advises a follow-up payout of at least $175,000. Insurance companies may not pay up, but the airlines should, he says.

“You take care of the people and the bottom line is always enhanced,” he says.

Moreover, the alternative could be costly litigation.

 

Ex-Korean Air Executive Arrested Over 'Nut Rage' Incident

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 09:56

Cho Hyun-ah's conduct aboard an aircraft over a packet of improperly served macadamia nuts led to her resignation. She was arrested today for violating South Korea's aviation safety laws.

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Former President George H.W. Bush Is Released From Hospital

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 08:55

Bush was taken to a hospital in Houston a week ago after he experienced shortness of breath. He is now resting at home.

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Ebola Survivor: Faith And Oral Rehydration Salts Got Her Through

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 08:06

It was "the worst news that I can hear in my life," says Dr. Ada Igonoh. She had Ebola. Her husband said she looked like a zombie. She wondered: "What's the cure for a disease that has no cure?"

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Hospitals Win In States That Chose To Expand Medicaid

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 07:58

In negotiations over the Affordable Care Act, hospitals agreed to cuts in federal payments for uncompensated care in the expectation that millions of people would get Medicaid coverage.

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Ethiopians Seeking Birth Control: Caught Between Church And State

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 07:36

The Orthodox church may not like it, but the powerful government is pushing family planning.

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Report: Number Of Police Officers Killed Spikes In 2014

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-30 07:33

In total, 126 officers were killed in 2014, a 24 percent increase from the 102 killed in 2013. The report also found that "ambush-style" attacks increased.

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