National News

Tax Time Gets New Ritual: Proof Of Health Insurance

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 05:20

The health law requires people to report their coverage status at tax time. Those without insurance or those who received subsidies will have to fill out new forms.

» E-Mail This

Egyptian Court Overturns Hosni Mubarak's Final Conviction

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 04:05

The decision means the former Egyptian dictator could be set free, soon. Mubarak was toppled, after an uprising four years ago. He was tried for murder and this case was about embezzlement.

» E-Mail This

Quiz: Grading America's quality of education

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 03:53

Education Week gave Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wyoming the highest scores in the newspaper’s state-by-state rankings.

We reported on the nation's lowest Education Week grade last week.

var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "education-week-gave-united-states-highest-grade-in-which-category", placeholder: "pd_1421155265" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'https://polldaddy.com/survey.js':'http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

Quiz: Grading the nation’s quality of education

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 03:53

Education Week gave Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wyoming the highest scores in the newspaper’s state-by-state rankings.

We reported on the nation's lowest Education Week grade last week.

var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "education-week-gave-united-states-highest-grade-in-which-category", placeholder: "pd_1421155265" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'https://polldaddy.com/survey.js':'http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

PODCAST: Lithuania adopts the euro

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 03:00

First up on today's show, we'll talk about the numerous pharmaceutical buy-outs that have gone down in the last two days. Plus, why buy a ticket for the Titanic after it has struck an iceberg? It’s a question that some analysts are asking Lithuania after the tiny Baltic state became — at the beginning of this month — the 19th member of the European Union to join monetary union and adopt the euro.

The effect of cheap oil on the jet making industry

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 03:00

The two largest suppliers of passenger jets, Airbus and Boeing are continuing to rack up huge sales.

The two companies reported purchase contracts of around 1,500 new orders each for 2014. Together, Boeing and Airbus face a combined backlog of some 12,000 unfilled orders, enough to keep their profits stable for years to come.

But while falling oil prices are good news for airlines, the trend doesn’t necessarily bode well for the jet makers' biggest customers.

“There will be less oil revenue flowing into places like the Arabian Gulf where airlines like Emirates, Qatar and Etihad have been ordering planes by the hundreds,” says Seth Kaplan of Airline Weekly.

Airlines operate on notoriously thin margins and are always looking to cut costs. So, whether oil is cheap or expensive, Kaplan says newer planes with better technology will remain in demand.

However, cheaper gas could also prompt airlines to also keep aging, less fuel-efficient jets in service longer. Future investments, however, aren’t likely to change drastically based on the current price of oil.

"Remember the order cycle is pretty long,” says Webster O’Brien, an Airline planning strategist with ICF International.

“So, a lot of the investment is made based on, not on yesterday's fuel price, but essentially where the industry feels it's going overall," he says.

O’Brien notes that cheap gas does offer incentives for startups, who could expand into markets cut out by previous rounds of airlines contractions.

Funerals Held In Paris, Jerusalem For Paris Attack Victims

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 02:46

In Paris, President François Hollande honored three police police officers. In Jerusalem, the victims of an attack on a Kosher market were buried.

» E-Mail This

Funerals Held In Paris, Jerusalem For Paris Attack Victims

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 02:31

In Paris, President François Hollande honored three police police officers. In Jerusalem, the victims of an attack on a Kosher market were buried.

» E-Mail This

College students discover the dorm stay-cation

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 02:00

It’s lonely in Alexander Poling’s campus apartment at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Like most students, his three roommates are gone for the month-long winter break. Poling, a junior, has a job in a university warehouse.

“I just don’t want to make that commute every day,” he says.

Plus, he’d rather be here than back home in Sparks, Md.

“Honestly, I like being on my own,” he says. “Especially since I have cats at home, and I’m allergic to cats.”

As college campuses become more diverse, students have lots of reasons to stay during breaks. For the growing numbers of international and low-income students, a trip home isn’t always affordable. Others hang around for winter classes or internships. On many campuses, traditional breaks are giving way to a new college tradition: the staycation. 

“We’re seeing a definite spike in students’ need to have somewhere to be,” says Allison Avolio, director of residential life at Johns Hopkins University. “So I think a lot of institutions are looking to find ways to accommodate those needs.”

This school year, for the first time, Hopkins opted to keep its dorms open for Thanksgiving and Spring Breaks. Around 300 to 350 students decided to stay for Thanksgiving, Avolio says.

Sophomore Jaya Jasty from New Orleans was one of them.

“It was quite depressing,” he says. “There was not much to do.”

Jasty had plenty of company, though, when he came back early from winter break to take a couple pass/fail classes and hang out with friends. About half of the university’s 2300 or so residential students come back for what’s known as Intersession, before the spring semester gets underway.

“We usually play video games nonstop in our common room since nobody’s here,” Jasty says. “We go to a lot of restaurants now, just explore Baltimore.”

Hopkins doesn’t charge students extra to stay during break, but keeping the lights and heat on may pay off in other ways. Students who live on campus and are more “engaged” in college life tend to do better in school.

Lithuania embraces the Euro

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 02:00

Why buy a ticket for the Titanic after it has struck an iceberg?

It’s a question that some analysts are asking Lithuania after the tiny Baltic state became — at the beginning of this month — the 19th member of the European Union to join monetary union and adopt the euro.

Ten years after joining the European Union, and almost 25 years after declaring its independence from the Soviet Union, Lithuania is doing well. The economy is growing at a healthy rate of 4.3 percent per annum, the budget deficit is way down, and government debt to GDP is among the EU’s lowest. So why put that at risk by joining a currency zone which is mired in crisis, deflation and recession and could even break up? Why clamber aboard a sinking ship ?

“Lithuania was already on the Titanic,” explains Andy Birch of IHS Global Insight. "Lithuania’s currency, the litas, was tied to the euro, so if the euro collapsed it would have dragged down the litas with it anyway. By joining the eurozone, at least the Lithuanians can have some say in the management of the euro. And they do now have the backing of the European Central Bank.”

Many Lithuanians don’t agree. 40 percent were opposed to euro membership. Some even staged a mock funeral for the litas this month with a coffin and mock mourners, lamenting the death of their national currency and the loss of sovereignty that it entails. Lithuania can no longer devalue its own money or even set its own interest rates. Opponents of euro membership fear that Lithuania has surrendered the power to fully manage its own economy.

But Simon Tilford of the Centre for European Reform says that one of the main reasons for Lithuania joining the eurozone is political rather than economic. It’s motivated by fear of the old occupying power on its doorstep.

“All of the Baltic governments believe that eurozone membership will help protect them against Russian aggression,” he says.

Already a member of the NATO alliance, Lithuania wants to embed itself even more securely in the west to ward off the Russians.

“They are brutal and aggressive,” says Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė. "We lived with this neighbor for 50 years under occupation and we never, never ever will allow anybody to occupy us once more. “

Here is a real irony: Lithuania is giving up some of its sovereignty in order to guarantee its independence.

Does a big user base mean big success?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 02:00

The other day Evan Williams a former CEO of Twitter and now the head of Medium, posted rant on Medium, the publishing platform he helped create. It caught our eye because it touched on a hot topic: Monthly Active Users. That’s the number of people who interact with your service or your platform at least once a month.

If you're a social media company in 2015, especially one that has gone or is going public, there's a good chance you're talking a lot about monthly active users. This number is used to measure the success of companies like Twitter or Buzzfeed. But Williams doesn't think that's the only metric for success. 

What kicked off his rant in the first place was a question about whether Instagram is bigger than Twitter because it has more users. But what exactly does bigger mean? Williams says it’s frustrating that so many people measure the success of consumer internet services — news, social media etc — solely by number of users. Twitter's CEO Dick Costolo is facing investor criticism right now because the social network isn't seen to be gaining new monthly active users fast enough.

Williams says that single number — the number of people who visit or use a site at least once a month — isn’t a fair metric. For one, it doesn't tell you how many people spent less than a minute on the site, and how many stayed longer. “What value are you measuring, either to the people or to the company?” he says.

Williams thinks time is “one of the other dimensions worth paying attention to,” but it’s an imperfect way to measure a site’s impact on people.

“The ultimate metric is probably not traceable,” he said. But for now, he’s interested in defining what bigger means.

 

College students discover the dorm stay-cation

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 02:00

It’s lonely in Alexander Poling’s campus apartment at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Like most students, his three roommates are gone for the month-long winter break. Poling, a junior, has a job in a university warehouse.

“I just don’t want to make that commute every day,” he says.

Plus, he’d rather be here than back home in Sparks, Md.

“Honestly, I like being on my own,” he says. “Especially since I have cats at home, and I’m allergic to cats.”

As college campuses become more diverse, students have lots of reasons to stay during breaks. For the growing numbers of international and low-income students, a trip home isn’t always affordable. Others hang around for winter classes or internships. On many campuses, traditional breaks are giving way to a new college tradition: the staycation. 

“We’re seeing a definite spike in students’ need to have somewhere to be,” says Allison Avolio, director of residential life at Johns Hopkins University. “So I think a lot of institutions are looking to find ways to accommodate those needs.”

This school year, for the first time, Hopkins opted to keep its dorms open for Thanksgiving and Spring Breaks. Around 300 to 350 students decided to stay for Thanksgiving, Avolio says.

Sophomore Jaya Jasty from New Orleans was one of them.

“It was quite depressing,” he says. “There was not much to do.”

Jasty had plenty of company, though, when he came back early from winter break to take a couple pass/fail classes and hang out with friends. About half of the university’s 2300 or so residential students come back for what’s known as Intersession, before the spring semester gets underway.

“We usually play video games nonstop in our common room since nobody’s here,” Jasty says. “We go to a lot of restaurants now, just explore Baltimore.”

Hopkins doesn’t charge students extra to stay during break, but keeping the lights and heat on may pay off in other ways. Students who live on campus and are more “engaged” in college life tend to do better in school.

Car sales in the era of $50-a-barrel oil

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 02:00

Detroit is hosting its annual North American International Auto Show this week and next. There are a few new green offerings on display, such as a new version Chevy’s Volt and an Audi Diesel plug-in hybrid. But with the price of gas so low, many consumers have lost some of their enthusiasm for fuel-efficient vehicles.

Edmunds' John O’Dell says as gas prices fell in the latter half of last year, truck and large SUVs sales ticked up and sales of smaller more fuel-efficient cars dropped slightly. But not all green cars were affected equally. O'Dell says consumers pulled back from hybrids, but electric cars remained popular with early adopters.

Ben Kallo, a senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird, says Teslas, in particular, have become an aspirational vehicle in the U.S., as BMW has been in the past.

You had me at "Like" on Facebook

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 01:30
3 million

That's how many copies of a special issue of Charlie Hedbo will be printed  on Wednesday, hitting newsstands in 16 languages. As reported by Bloomberg, the issue will feature the Prophet Muhammad on the cover.

84 percent

The portion of police raids that utilized flashbang grenades in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2014, almost exclusively in black neighborhoods. Those raids rarely turned up weapons or even drugs in some cases, a ProPublica investigation found, but the flashbang itself can be extremely dangerous.

1,500

That's about how many new orders each Airbus and Boeing reported in 2014. They also face a combined backlog of some 12,000 unfilled orders, enough to keep their profits stable for years to come. But some question how the tumbling price of oil will affect the jet makers' biggest customers

42-20

The score of the first-ever college football national championships, in which Ohio State upset Oregon to win the title. The Wall Street Journal has the strange story of "Mandrake," Oregon's frightening, muscular attempt at a new mascot to replace it's Donald Duck-aping "Puddles."

10

The number of Facebook "likes" a computer program must analyze to guess a subject's personality better than his or her coworker. The computer could only beat roommates and friends when it had about 70 "likes" to work with, the Washington Post reported, and it could beat a spouse with 300 likes.

Pages