National News

Calif. Lawmaker Leeland Yee Pleads Not Guilty To Corruption

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 10:11

Yee, a Democractic senator who advocated for more gun control, was arrested on gun trafficking charges. He denied those charges in a federal court on Tuesday.

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Flight 370 Vanished A Month Ago. What Happens Now?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 09:59

An international search team has spent weeks combing the Indian Ocean for signs of the missing Boeing 777. Here's a summary of where we are with the hunt for the jetliner.

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The Hilton name, from Conrad to Paris

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-08 09:27

In his new book “The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty,” author J. Randy Taraborrelli traces the path of the hotel empire from founder Conrad Hilton’s childhood home in San Antonio, New Mexico to the Beverly Hills mansion of Paris Hilton. Here are a few of the questions that didn’t make it into our radio interview:

Did ‘Mad Men’ get Conrad Hilton right?

“I thought that was very realistic. I thought they made him a little more shark-like than he actually was, but for the purposes of drama they needed to amp that up. But I loved it and I know that the Hilton family loved it too. In fact, the Hilton family, the Hilton Foundation and the Hilton Library assisted ‘Mad Men’ and gave them the photographs and the material they needed to be able to recreate Conrad’s suits and the Stetson hat, and they gave them speeches so they would understand how Conrad spoke. They were very involved.”

The more contemporary Hiltons are famous for maxing out credit cards (or at least they would max out the credit cards of most of us). But the Hilton family actually had a hand in ushering credit cards into American society in the first place.

“Conrad and Baron Hilton were responsible for Carte Blanche, which in the 50s, 60s and 70s was the credit card. I remember the ads when I was a kid and I remember my parents wanting one very badly. Back in those days before credit cards were a novelty, it wasn’t easy to apply for a credit card and get one. And the Hiltons were one of the first to popularize the idea of credit cards. (While Diner’s Club beat them to the punch, Carte Blanche built the first global credit network). I remember Baron Hilton saying in a speech that cash money is out, now credit is in.”

What would Conrad Hilton think about Paris?

“I tend to have a very positive opinion of Paris Hilton. And the reason that I feel that way is that Barron Hilton, her grandfather and Conrad’s son, inherited the enterprise. Paris Hilton didn’t inherit anything except the name Hilton. (When Barron Hilton dies, Paris is expected to inherit about $5 million). The family mandate is this: You can do anything you want with the family name except go into the hotel business. She built her own empire independent of the hotel business and made $50 million doing so just because of her ingenuity, her personality and her persona. There are many Hiltons, many cousins, nieces, nephews. I met probably 50 Hiltons, none of whom we’ve ever heard of. She took the name and turned it into something huge. Whatever you think about Paris Hilton, you have to admit you know who she is.”

Conrad Hilton (1887 - 1979) the Chairman and President of the eponymous hotel chain, tips his hat in 1964.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

Fists Fly In Ukraine's Parliament After Lawmaker's Speech [VIDEO]

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 09:06

A speech in Ukraine's parliament sparked violence Tuesday after other lawmakers took exception to a communist leader's speech that criticized the government and those who ousted the president.

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Why Chocolate Is A Bargaining Chip In The Ukraine-Russia Conflict

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 09:01

Russia banned chocolate made by the leading Ukrainian presidential candidate at a time when political tensions are high between the countries. And we wanted to know: Is the chocolate any good?

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PODCAST: (Not) talking about pay

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-08 08:45

President Obama plans to sign an executive order stopping federal contractors from punishing workers who talk about their paychecks. It's about enlisting transparency to narrow the gap between what women and men are paid. But keeping your pay to yourself is deeply rooted in the culture, as Kate Davidson reports.

And, Banco Popular is shifting eastward from Los Angeles and Chicago, according to the newspaper Crain's Chicago Business. Marketplace's Dan Weissman has more on prospects for the bank that went from Puerto Rico into neighbhorhoods around the U.S.

Meanwhile, there's you, in the workplace. You give and give some more, because that's the giving person you are. And then there's all those other people who take. Take, Take, Take.  Adam Grant is a professior at the Wharton school at the University of Pennsylvania who has a book called "Give and Take."

NASA Image Shows Volcanic Island Has Annexed Its Neighbor

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 08:28

NASA says the Western Pacific island of Nishino-shima has merged with its newly created volcanic companion, forming one larger landmass.

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Global Aid For Health Hits Record High As Funding Sources Shift

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 08:01

The $31.3 billion given by wealthy nations, aid groups, charities, large foundations and others in 2013 reflects the shifting mix of donors backing international health projects, an analysis suggests.

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Restaurants squeezed by high price of limes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-08 07:51

So just how expensive are limes these days?  Danny Herrera manages Fonda San Miguel, one of the priciest Mexican restaurants in Austin.  He says six months ago, he was paying $14 a case.

"Then it kinda went up to $20, and then it slowly started getting higher and higher," he says. "And then as of last week, it was up to $99."

Herrera stopped garnishing his meals with limes, and he's rethinking his Margarita prices. 

Most of the limes we consume come from Mexico - particularly the state of Michoacan, an area dominated by the drug cartels and citizen militias. Producers say they'd rather burn their crops than sell at the pitiful prices the cartels pay. I talked to one of the lime producers in Michoacan. He asked me to change his name to Carlos because he's afraid of the cartels.

Carlos says local lime prices are not high, they've held steady. "I don't understand why the public says the price is too high."

When I tell Carlos that some restauranteurs in the U.S. are paying around $100 per case, he's shocked.

"Son of a… That's a gross exageration."

Carlos says somebody is making a lot of money. But it isn't him. He says floods and plagues have cut citrus production in Mexico by half.

And there's a growing global taste for limes.

"In Asia, it's an important part of their supply and demand," says Dr. Eric Thor from the School of Agribusiness at Arizona State University. He says limes are more expensive now - in part - because there are millions more people using them. "Today we use the fruits in everything from special Margaritas to Asian noodles."

Now, planes full of fruit from the Americas are flown to China. And that has increased the price of everything from limes to cherries. But why do people in the United States pay for what consumers in China want? Thor says, basically, because we're still willing to pay for limes -- no matter the price.

He says the price will come down based on the time of year, and based on production.

As for now, it's hard to find limes in some Austin taco eateries. During my last visit to my favorite taco place, the attendant handed me a lemon instead of a lime. Can you believe that? In my book, that's a "no no." Tacos and lemons don't go together.

 

Nevada Offers Rare Deal: Year-Round Sales Of Health Plans

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 07:50

It is the only state to require insurers that sell individual plans outside the online marketplace to make coverage available to customers anytime.

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Sharpton Rejects Detailed Story About FBI Informant Role

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 07:44

The Rev. Al Sharpton says he isn't a former FBI asset who informed on Mafia figures to a special task force in New York City during the 1980s, despite a recent report by The Smoking Gun.

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Oscar Pistorius Sobs On Witness Stand At His Murder Trial

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 07:17

The double-amputee runner tells the court of the moment he says he realized he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, and not an intruder.

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Windows XP Users, It's Time To Upgrade. Here's How

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 07:11

Microsoft support for Windows XP stops Tuesday. If you're still using the 12-year-old operating system — an estimated quarter of PC users still run XP — here are some tips to get through an upgrade.

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Avoiding The Nursing Home Ups The Risk Of Unwanted Medical Care

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 07:11

Two-thirds of older adults suffer from cognitive impairment or dementia in their last year of life, a study finds. That fact and being cared for at home increase the risk of aggressive treatment.

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Quinoa Is Kosher For Passover, But Mom May Not Approve

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 06:25

The Orthodox arbiters of kosher inspected quinoa fields in the mountains of Peru and Bolivia. And now for the first time, they've given their Passover seal of approval to the ancient "pseudo-cereal."

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Mouthwash And Poor Dental Hygiene May Up The Risk Of Oral Cancer

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 06:02

Freshening up your mouth with a regular rinse could come with a long-term health hazard. But cancer specialists are far more concerned about tobacco, alcohol and betel nut chewing.

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Russia Issues Warning As Ukraine Forcibly Removes Protesters

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 05:26

A Ukrainian minister says police arrested around 70 demonstrators who had seized an administration building in Kharkiv, Ukraine's 2nd-largest city. Separatists have also seized a building in Donetsk.

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With NCAA Title, UConn Answers Questions About Kentucky, And Itself

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-08 04:11

UConn won it all, 60-54, by staying a step ahead of Kentucky's talented five starting freshmen. The Huskies also made all of their free throws, while the Wildcats struggled at the line.

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Why don't we like to talk about our pay?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-08 02:41

President Obama is set to sign an executive order Tuesday prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their salaries.

This effort to increase wage transparency has another obstacle: our workplace culture, in which asking your cube-mate what he or she makes is virtually taboo.

"Well, it's said that Americans love to talk about sex, but don't like to talk about their salaries," says Gary Burtless, a labor economist at the Brookings Institution. 

However, many employers also have policies discouraging or prohibiting workers from sharing compensation information. That’s despite the fact that the National Labor Relations Board considers wage discussions a ‘protected’ activity.

Banco Popular retreats toward its home base

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-08 02:16

Banco Popular is based in Puerto Rico, but it has operations in mainland U.S. cities like New York and Miami. A recent news report says the bank is looking to sell its branches in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Just four years ago, Banco Popular rebranded itself in those cities as Popular Community Bank, hoping to broaden its customer base. Now it's moving in the opposite direction.

"At some point it makes sense for the company to exit the market," says Mark Palmer, managing director of BTIG, "and focus on its operations in Puerto Rico, where it's gaining market share, gaining deposits." And, making better profits.

At home in Puerto Rico, Banco Popular gets a better spread between the interest it pays depositors and the interest it gets paid on loans. Banco Popular is the island's biggest bank, and even in a weak economy, it's been growing.

Analyst Brian Klock watches Popular for the investment bank Keefe, Bruyette and Woods. He thinks that this move to streamline could be partly intended to please bank regulators.

Popular wants to pay back TARP bailout funds, so it can start paying dividends to shareholders again. Before regulators accept that payment, they require proof that the bank is in good shape, and well-run.

"That's because the regulators are focused on making sure we don't go through this again," he says, referring to the 2008 financial crisis.

Klock thinks that's good news for the rest of us. "The regulator is doing his job," he says, "to try to make sure this is a safe and sound banking system."

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included a photograph of the incorrect bank. The photo has been corrected.

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