National News

Your Wallet: Indulgence

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 06:23

Around the holidays you indulge, or try not to indulge, in many things.

We want to hear your story. How does it affect you financially, or what do you try to keep from yourself?

Send us an email, or reach us on Twitter, @MarketplaceWKND

Thailand Says It Was Unaware Of CIA 'Black Site' On Its Soil

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 05:54

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha says the U.S. never told Thai officials of the existence of a safe house where top al-Qaida operatives were allegedly subjected to torture.

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Teaching Hospitals Hit Hardest By Medicare Fines For Patient Safety

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 05:50

Medicare will cut payments to hospitals with high rates of patient infections and injuries. Half that nation's academic medical centers will be docked by Medicare for making too many medical mistakes.

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To Finish Up Year, Obama Will Hold A Press Conference

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 04:32

President Obama has a lot to talk about: From the recent protests in Ferguson to thawing relations with Cuba and Iran. Obama may also be asked about the cyber attack on Sony.

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Details On The Administration's New College Ratings System

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 03:03

A framework for measuring opportunity --and outcomes.

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3 Business Best-Sellers Show Inequality Is Now The Hot Topic

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 03:03

Many business books try to help you get rich quick. But three of 2014's biggest sellers focused on unfairness and inequality. Economists say expect more: Books on inequality are riding a huge wave.

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What's Next For Cuba? The Headlines That Tell The Story

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 03:03

The State Department says a delegation of diplomats will visit the island next month. The formal restoration of diplomatic ties is expected to be as easy as the two countries writing each other notes.

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Hackers aim to learn from Sony attack

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00

As U.S. officials accused North Korea of the unprecedented cyber attack on Sony Pictures today, hackers hoping to learn from the attack — either to prevent or to commit future ones — continued to pour over the digital trail of the incident.

The FBI says it has gathered evidence which links the incident to the regime of North Korea's Kim Jong-un. The agency today cited technical similarities between the Sony hacking and past "malicious cyber activity" linked directly to North Korea.

"North Korea's actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior," the FBI said in a statement.

While government investigators are examining the cyber attack, which stole a trove of emails and corporate secrets such as financial data from Sony's film studio, to figure out who's to blame, hackers are looking to see what can be learned, according to Chris Wysopal of the security firm Veracode, who has been monitoring hacker chatter.

Wysopal says hackers are trying to answer a number of questions: "What worked? How did you get in? How did you move around? How did you exfiltrate data? What had value?"

Hackers want to know which digital tools were used so they can adopt those tools, says Wysopal, adding that he's been hearing from worried chief information security officers.

"They're definitely concerned. This shows that there's attackers out there, and that they are ready to go out there for blood," Wysopal says.

"The hacker mindset is often to outdo others," and the Sony hack set a new standard, says Gabriella Coleman of McGill University who has written a book on hackers. "In this case, I do think it will compel some hackers to do something similar and perhaps even more audacious," Coleman says.

She expects there'll be more hacks aimed at sabotage, not just the leaking of information.

Super-fast delivery is the new game in town

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00

For about $8 in Manhattan, Amazon will have a bike courier deliver your groceries, toys, and toilet paper in under an hour.

John Morgan, who teaches at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, says Amazon can pull this off because of its sheer scale. Other companies tried and failed during the dot-com boom for this kind of instantaneous delivery, and a host of start-ups are now trying to get into the game—companies like Instacart and Uber.

But John Deighton, professor at Harvard Business School, says they are making a mistake by focusing on delivery, not product.

In the end, says Josh Bivens from the Economic Policy Institute, the success of super-fast delivery rides on an army of cheap contract workers. Bivens says a healthy labor market would make instantaneous delivery more expensive and a harder business model. 

Chicken of the sea is nothing to squawk at

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00
34 percent

That's how much profits fell for BlackBerry Ltd., as shown in their third-quarter revenue report. As reported by Bloomberg, the $793 million in revenue is well below analysts' expectations. 

58 percent

That's how much value Bitcoin lost in 2014. The online currency has somehow tanked even harder than the ruble, Quartz reported, which is down 47 percent this year.

1 in 5

1 in 5 Europeans ages 16 to 74 has never used the internet. But you already knew that, didn't you? So test your knowledge of tech news over at Silicon Tally, Marketplace Tech's Friday round-up quiz.

2

That's how many minutes of film "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies" gets from each page of its slim source material. That's very high when compared to other blockbuster adaptations, FiveThirtyEight reported, and it's even more mind-boggling to consider its just one of three movies adapted from a 293-page book.

300 men

That's how many men have signed up as test subjects for a childbirth simulator since the trial began in November. The Jinan Aima Maternity Hospital in Jinan, China, offers expectant fathers the chance to sympathize — and we mean really sympathize — with their spouses in what it calls the "Pain Experience Camp." Four electrodes are attached to the subject's stomach, sending electric shocks that simulate labor contractions. Head over to the WSJ to read more.

$1.5 billion

That's how much Thai Union Frozen Products PCL will pay for Bumble Bee Seafoods (think Tuna). They are effectively purchasing the big tuna of seafood in the U.S., as Bumble Bee is the number one producer of canned tuna and sardines in North America, as reported by Reuters

Silicon Tally: Our romance is off the Hinges

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by digital dating consultant Laurie Davis. She's the founder of eFlirt, a service that helps clients polish their online dating profiles, decode text messages from dates, and improve their online chatting.

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An oilman bets prices will rise, and loses big

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00

The oil price bust has left lots of people licking their financial wounds. Perhaps the biggest one-way bet in the wrong direction came from the oilpatch itself, by a company and its founder at the center of the U.S. oil revolution. Harold Hamm is the $8 billion dollar oilman; the man behind the biggest drilling company in North Dakota, Continental Resources.

In an earnings call five weeks ago, he said, "We're at the bottom rung here on prices and we'll see them recover pretty drastically pretty quick. Given our belief the recent pullback in oil prices will be short-lived, we made changes to our existing hedge book by monetizing practically all of our oil contracts."

That's oilspeak for: we're betting on prices to rise. Continental had locked in nice, high-selling prices by what's called hedging. Until it stopped doing that. The company has lost half its value in four months.

To Gregory Zuckerman, author of "The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of The New Billionaire Wildcatters," this bet goes hand-in-hand with Hamm's astonishing success story. The son of Oklahoma sharecroppers, Hamm started with nothing and made an early, crazy bet on North Dakota oil. He was stubborn.

"You need that self-confidence," Zuckerman says. "But it can bite you on the way down by making you a little too sure of yourself. And I would argue that when he took off those hedges, he showed signs of that."

In a recent interview, Hamm says he still thinks oil prices could rise. He may well be right. But his timing was off.

When A Hospital Bill Becomes A Decade-Long Pay Cut

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:02

Nonprofit hospitals provide assistance to poor patients in exchange for tax breaks. But some still seize wages of poor patients with unpaid bills — even those who qualify for free or reduced care.

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For An Island Trapped In The '50s, An Instant Digital Revolution

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 00:03

Cuba is one of the least connected countries on Earth, with 5 percent of residents online. But it could become the Caribbean's largest market if the Castros open the nation up to the Internet.

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7 Miles Beneath The Sea's Surface: Who Goes There?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 00:02

Marine scientists plumbing the deepest part of the ocean sent microphones and collection probes baited with chicken to the bottom of a trench near Guam. Now they watch, wait ... and listen.

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The Eye-Opening Saga Of Walter And Margaret Keane, Now On Screen

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 00:01

Walter Keane made his name with wistful paintings of big-eyed children — paintings actually done by his wife. Tim Burton directs and Amy Adams stars in Big Eyes, a new movie about the Keanes.

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The Administration's College Ratings: How It Looks On Campus

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 23:59

The Education Department's unveiling today of a controversial ratings system has fueled a debate over what this kind of system can — or should — measure.

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Two Of Colorado's Neighbors Sue State Over Marijuana Law

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 17:23

Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed a lawsuit against Colorado with the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that its law legalizing marijuana isn't constitutional.

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Once Written Off, Kepler Telescope Finds New Planet

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 16:05

The Kepler space telescope, which cost some $600 million, was feared to be at the end of its useful life in 2013. But NASA says it just found another exoplanet.

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'Team America' Is Benched: Won't Return To Theaters, Reports Say

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 14:47

One day after some U.S. theaters vowed to screen Team America: World Police in the place of The Interview, whose release was canceled, word has emerged that Team America has also been pulled.

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