National News

Netanyahu: Israel Is Prepared For 'Long Operation' In Gaza

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 10:26

Ignoring calls for a cease-fire, Israel's prime minister said the country's incursion into Gaza wouldn't halt until its "mission is accomplished."

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Midwestern college dilemma: fewer local kids to tap

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 10:22

Tom Crady wants high school kids across the country to think about attending Gustavus Adolphus College, even if they mangle the name.

"Some won't say the name at all. They just say, 'Tell me how you pronounce the college's name,'" says Crady, vice president of enrollment at the college, which is pronounced gus-TAY-vus uh-DOLPH-us.

The liberal arts college, perched on a bluff in southern Minnesota, is seeing fewer applicants from its home state, as well as other Midwestern states. So Crady is courting potential students from far-flung places like Texas and even India.

"We go farther and longer distances than ever before," Crady says.

Crady says the changes are occasioned by big demographic shifts. In the '90s, birth rates fell nationally. On top of that, lots of people migrated south and west. That all spells a decline in high school graduates in the Northeast and Midwest today. That's according to Brian Prescott, who directs research at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

"You can't grow 18-year-olds or high school graduates in a laboratory," Prescott says.

Prescott estimates there's been a 7 percent drop in high school grads in the middle of the country just over the past six years.

Colleges as far away as Dartmouth and Harvard have noticed fewer Midwestern applicants. But experts say the demographic changes are not a big deal for elite institutions with fat endowments and kids lined up at the door. Small, liberal arts colleges that are not household names will likely suffer more as tuition dollars shrink.

"It's very tough right now not only finding the number of your potential applicants dropping but knowing that there are others competing with you to try to get those graduates," says Diane Viacava, vice president in the higher education division at the credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service.

Viacava says many small Midwestern colleges are struggling with the shifting demographics. Among those rated by Moody's rates, a couple dozen have seen two consecutive years of declining enrollments.

Many are bumping up their recruiting budgets and offering big discounts on tuition.

"What we're finding is that some of the Midwest colleges are discounting over 50 percent to get a student to come to the college," Viacava says.

That's true at Gustavus Adolphus. On average, the college cuts its $40,000 annual tuition by about half.

But, Viacava says, as revenue falls, colleges have to figure out how to cut costs in other areas, like faculty.

"Given that many of them could have a somewhat inflexible expense structure, that can prove very challenging for operations," Viacava says.

Even some public institutions are feeling the pain. Minnesota State University Moorhead recently blamed changing demographics when it announced plans to eliminate several low-enrollment programs.

If there are any winners in this scenario, they may be the Midwestern high school students who are in such short supply. Brayden Yel begins her senior year of high school in a St. Paul suburb this fall. On a recent visit to Gustavus Adolphus, Yel said she's received a lot of emails and letters from Midwestern Colleges.

"Absolutely," Yel says. "Lots of asking for tours and stuff like that."

So far Yel doesn't seem to mind all the attention.

Region Class of 2008 (actual) Class of 2014 (projected) % change Midwest (IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, OH, WI) 705,639 656,022 -7 Northeast (CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT) 552,289 526,820 -4.6 South (AL, AR, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV) 1,031,773 1,051,890 2 West (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, MT, NV, NM, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY) 711,636 700,086 -1.6

Source: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

Midwestern college dilemma: fewer local kids to tap

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 10:22

Tom Crady wants high school kids across the country to think about attending Gustavus Adolphus College, even if they mangle the name.

"Some won't say the name at all. They just say, 'Tell me how you pronounce the college's name,'" says Crady, vice president of enrollment at the college, which is pronounced gus-TAY-vus uh-DOLPH-us.

The liberal arts college, perched on a bluff in southern Minnesota, is seeing fewer applicants from its home state, as well as other Midwestern states. So Crady is courting potential students from far-flung places like Texas and even India.

"We go farther and longer distances than ever before," Crady says.

Crady says the changes are occasioned by big demographic shifts. In the '90s, birth rates fell nationally. On top of that, lots of people migrated south and west. That all spells a decline in high school graduates in the Northeast and Midwest today. That's according to Brian Prescott, who directs research at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

"You can't grow 18-year-olds or high school graduates in a laboratory," Prescott says.

Prescott estimates there's been a 7 percent drop in high school grads in the middle of the country just over the past six years.

Colleges as far away as Dartmouth and Harvard have noticed fewer Midwestern applicants. But experts say the demographic changes are not a big deal for elite institutions with fat endowments and kids lined up at the door. Small, liberal arts colleges that are not household names will likely suffer more as tuition dollars shrink.

"It's very tough right now not only finding the number of your potential applicants dropping but knowing that there are others competing with you to try to get those graduates," says Diane Viacava, vice president in the higher education division at the credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service.

Viacava says many small Midwestern colleges are struggling with the shifting demographics. Among those rated by Moody's rates, a couple dozen have seen two consecutive years of declining enrollments.

Many are bumping up their recruiting budgets and offering big discounts on tuition.

"What we're finding is that some of the Midwest colleges are discounting over 50 percent to get a student to come to the college," Viacava says.

That's true at Gustavus Adolphus. On average, the college cuts its $40,000 annual tuition by about half.

But, Viacava says, as revenue falls, colleges have to figure out how to cut costs in other areas, like faculty.

"Given that many of them could have a somewhat inflexible expense structure, that can prove very challenging for operations," Viacava says.

Even some public institutions are feeling the pain. Minnesota State University Moorhead recently blamed changing demographics when it announced plans to eliminate several low-enrollment programs.

If there are any winners in this scenario, they may be the Midwestern high school students who are in such short supply. Brayden Yel begins her senior year of high school in a St. Paul suburb this fall. On a recent visit to Gustavus Adolphus, Yel said she's received a lot of emails and letters from Midwestern Colleges.

"Absolutely," Yel says. "Lots of asking for tours and stuff like that."

So far Yel doesn't seem to mind all the attention.

Region Class of 2008 (actual) Class of 2014 (projected) % change Midwest (IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, OH, WI) 705,639 656,022 -7 Northeast (CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT) 552,289 526,820 -4.6 South (AL, AR, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV) 1,031,773 1,051,890 2 West (AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, MT, NV, NM, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY) 711,636 700,086 -1.6

Source: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

FAA Seeks $12 Million Fine Against Southwest Airlines

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 10:18

A contractor for the airline failed to perform repairs properly and Southwest put some jets back into service despite their not being in compliance with federal regulations, the agency alleges.

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Your Wallet: The rising costs of childcare

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 10:15

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the cost of child care in America has nearly doubled since the mid-1980s: 

 We want to know: How did you made it work? Does a family member watch your kids? Do you pay for daycare? 

Tell us about your childcare sacrifices and solutions, either in the comments below or through email. We'd love to chat.

Fast-Food Scandal Revives China's Food Safety Anxieties

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:59

A U.S. company that supplies meat to fast-food chains in China has pulled all its products made by a subsidiary. An expose revealed some of the products were mishandled and had expired.

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Margot Adler, An NPR Journalist For Three Decades, Dies

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:46

Adler joined NPR in 1979 and covered everything from the emergence of the AIDS epidemic to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She was 68.

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It May Be Summer, But For Economists, This Week Feels Like Christmas

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:37

Each day this week will bring new decisions and reports that could have a big impact on the nation's economy.

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Uber ranks drivers... and passengers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:33

Uber, the ride sharing service in business in major cities around the world, lets you use a smart phone to hail a car.

When you use the service, at the end of the trip, you rank your driver on a five-point scale. A driver's ranking determines how much business he gets. Even if he can stay in business, drivers live in fear of too many low ratings.

It turns out Uber drivers can also rank Uber passengers on a scale of one to five. Uber keeps that number secret. But, over the weekend, the website Medium posted a work-around. With a few keystrokes and some copy and pasting, you could find out how you rank.

Unfortunately, Uber got wind of it all and quickly closed the loophole.

I did this last night, though. And not to brag, but I'm a 4.9.

To Stop Cheating, Nuclear Officers Ditch The Grades

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:19

A switch to pass-fail grading is curbing the "perfection" culture among U.S. nuclear missile forces. Critics of the old way say striving to be perfect invited cheating by those who launch the nukes.

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With Men's Y Chromosome, Size Really May Not Matter

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 08:41

The string of genes that make a man a man used to be much bigger, and some geneticists say it may be wasting away. Back off, others say. Y has been stable — and crucial — for millennia.

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Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 08:19

Birds are everywhere, but the greatest concentration of different birds — the "bird mecca" of America — is not in our great parks, not in our forests, not where you'd suppose. Not at all.

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Court Orders Russia To Pay Former Yukos Shareholders $50B

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:52

The Permanent Court of Arbitration called Russia's seizure of the oil company "devious and calculated." The ruling, one of the largest such awards, adds to tensions between Moscow and the West.

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Dollar Tree To Buy Family Dollar In $8.5 Billion Deal

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:26

The deal will unite two of the United States' biggest discount stores. Dollar Tree will pay $74.50 for each share of Family Dollar and said it would run the company as a separate brand.

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For Muslims In Gaza, End Of Ramadan Marred By Fighting

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:08

The Muslim holiday Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and is usually a time for family celebration. This year, it also marks three weeks since the current war in Gaza started.

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Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar (yes, for more than $1)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:00

Dollar Tree announced on Monday that it is buying rival discount chain Family Dollar for approximately $8.5 billion in cash and stock. The combined company will have 13,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

The deal promises big cost-savings as operations are consolidated. Both companies have reported earnings that underperformed analysts’ predictions in recent quarters. Family Dollar has also been under pressure from investor/activist Carl Icahn, who has called for the chain to be sold.

During the recession, consumers flocked to these super-discount stores. But now, says economist Chris Christopher at IHS Global Insight, consumers’ balance sheets are improving, and moderate to middle income families may be drifting away from the deepest discounts.

“Wages are starting to gain a bit of traction,” says Christopher. “And in addition, there is a little bit of migration of people from the discount stores to the middle-tier retailers.”

Christopher says the super-discount stores — all of Dollar Tree’s items sell for $1 or less; Family Dollar has a wider range of goods reaching slightly higher price-points — can’t raise prices very much. So their margins are being squeezed as inflation starts to pick up at the wholesale and retail level.

How Protecting Wildlife Helps Stop Child Labor And Slavery

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 05:20

Food in supermarkets is increasingly connected to child labor and trafficking. Many laws aimed at ending these abuses overlook a key source of the problem: The rapid decline of fish and fauna.

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Team Investigating Downing Of MH17 Turns Back Due To Heavy Fighting

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 05:03

The crew — made up of Dutch and Australian experts — were headed toward the debris field when they heard explosions.

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Lawmakers Announce $17 Billion Deal Intended To Fix VA System

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 03:42

The package would overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and provide extra funding to hire more doctors and nurses. Lawmakers unveiled the plan on Monday.

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PODCAST: Turning over a new Leaf

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 03:00

More on the news that Dollar Tree will purchase Family Dollar for $8.5 billion, and what it means for both businesses moving forward. Plus, Nissan is hoping to turn over a new Leaf; While the company most likely loses money on its electric car, it hopes that it will see profits in the longrun. Also, the Muslim American community adds billions to the U.S. economy, especially during Eid Al Fitr, which follows Ramadan. So why haven't marketers caught on?

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