National News

Oso, Wash., Mudslide Death Toll Rises To 41; 4 Still Missing

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 11:18

The Snohomish County medical examiner's office says two more people have been added to the list of the dead from last month's disaster in Washington state.

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The poetry of 'bankrupt' and 'nest egg'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-21 11:05

As much as we talk about the financial markets, how often do we really stop to think about the words we’re using? Or how poetic they can be?

Mark Forsyth, author of “The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language” pondered the words we use to talk about the financial markets recently for The New York Times. Here’s one excerpt from his piece, which he read for us today:

"Sometimes, of course, bankers would run out of money, and when they did — in an age before the invention of TARP, bailouts and Ben Bernanke — their bench would be ceremonially smashed in front of them. It was then a 'broken bench' or 'banca rotta' or 'bankrupt.' Though trading terminals may be sturdy things, this is the sort of personalized and decisive action that I’m sure we all hope to see from Janet Yellen and her ax."

Read more of Mark Forsyth’s essay here, and listen to his voice above.

If life gives you eggs, make egg salad

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-21 10:33

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up April 22, 2014 :

  • President Obama is scheduled to visit the community of Oso in Washington State where last month's devastating mudslide occurred.
  • The National Association of Realtors reports on sales of existing homes for March.
  • It's director John Waters' birthday. He'll be 68.
  • A toast to the planet we live on. Tomorrow is Earth Day.
  • And speaking of toast, do you have a lot of eggs to eat? Maybe you dyed dozens of them for Easter. Then you may be among those observing Egg Salad Week.

U.N. Reports Hundreds Killed In Ethnic Violence In South Sudan

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 10:32

The U.N. Mission in South Sudan says it has confirmed the killings of more than 400 people who were singled out for their ethnicity after rebels seized the oil hub of Bentiu.

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You Can Survive A Flight In A Jet's Wheel Well, But Probably Won't

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 10:31

A California teen, the FBI says, flew from San Jose to Maui inside the landing gear bay of a Boeing 767. He is said to be OK. He's also very lucky. Nearly everyone else who's tried has died.

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The costs of climbing Mount Everest

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-21 10:09
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 18:00 Buddhabir RAI/AFP/Getty Images

Nepalese rescue team members rescue a survivor of an avalanche on Mount Everest on April 18, 2014

The deadliest avalanche in Mount Everest history is leading Sherpas in Nepal to consider a labor strike. The boycott would protest the amount of money provided by the Nepalese government to families of the deceased. Thirteen Sherpas were killed and more are presumed dead after last Friday's fatal avalanche. The government currently provides about $400 per family and the strike would aim to increase that amount to $10,000. 

Sherpa guides have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, but many Sherpas are attracted by the relatively high pay of assisting climbers up Mount Everest. Sherpas make at least $2,000 per climbing season, considerably more than the median income of Nepal, which comes in at around $540 per year. Elite Sherpas can make as much as $4,000 - $5,000 in just two months. By comparison, Western guides make as much as $50,000, plus tips.

Alpine Ascents is a company the leads Everest climbs for $65,000 per person. Five of the Sherpas who died in last week's avalanche were employed by that company. Director of Programs Gordon Janow understands the importance of the Sherpa role in the business. "They're setting up the camps, carrying oxygen, walking side-by-side one-on-one," Janow says. Without Sherpas, he continues, "it'd be an entirely different style of expedition."

Perhaps even more difficult than the task of accompanying climbers to the summit, Sherpas also carry supplies and equipment on the climb. Legally, they are only supposed to carry 8 to 10 kilograms (17 to 22 pounds), but willingness to carry double that can also lead to double the earnings

 Right now, it's the start of climbing seasson and business is booming.

"You know there's a lot of money in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars that changes hands on Everest every year," says Nick Heil, editorial director of OutsideOnline.com and author of "Dark Summit," a book about the commercialization of climbing the Earth's highest mountain. "Only a small percentage of that goes into the hands and pockets and accounts of the work force that basically enables all of this to take place."

Sherpa's wages are not a part of the proposed boycott, but Janow says they're also worth discussing. However, he acknowledges it's a balancing act. If compensation rises too much, it could damage Nepal's climbing industry altogether. 

"Like anything else, does it push the cost of it up so people aren't going?" Janow asks.

Sherpas face more than just the fear of death. Being a Sherpa means frequent exposure to injuries, yet there is little support for those who become disabled on the job. The Sherpas are also asking the government to provide $10,000 in compensation for guides who can no longer work in mountaineering due to their injuries.

Marketplace for Monday April 21, 2014by Tobin Low and Krissy ClarkPodcast Title The human cost of climbing Mount EverestStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

The poetry of 'bankrupt' and 'nest egg'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-21 10:07
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 14:05 Wikimedia Commons

As much as we talk about the financial markets, how often do we really stop to think about the words we’re using? Or how poetic they can be?

Mark Forsyth, author of “The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language” pondered the words we use to talk about the financial markets recently for The New York Times. Here’s one excerpt from his piece, which he read for us today:

"Sometimes, of course, bankers would run out of money, and when they did — in an age before the invention of TARP, bailouts and Ben Bernanke — their bench would be ceremonially smashed in front of them. It was then a 'broken bench' or 'banca rotta' or 'bankrupt.' Though trading terminals may be sturdy things, this is the sort of personalized and decisive action that I’m sure we all hope to see from Janet Yellen and her ax."

Read more of Mark Forsyth’s essay here, and listen to his voice above.

Marketplace for Monday April 21, 2014 The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language Author: Mark Forsyth Publisher: Berkley Trade (2012) Binding: Paperback, 304 pages by Mark ForsythPodcast Title The poetry of 'bankrupt' and 'nest egg'Story Type CommentarySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Fertilizer for farmers competes with oil for rail cars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-21 09:46
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 16:37 Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A locomotive sits idle on the tracks near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Intermodal Facility.

It’s just about time for spring planting season in the Upper Midwest. But to plant, farmers need fertilizer, and the trains that ship fertilizer are busy. Shipments of crude oil have squeezed out other freight and now the federal government has stepped in, ordering two railroads to make room. 

To farmers waiting for their fertilizer, the problem seems obvious. Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmer’s Union, says agricultural shipments are way behind: "What I’m hearing from farmers back home is that these oil cars are moving just like clockwork. And there is very much the sentiment: They have been given some sort of priority treatment by the railroads.”

The government has ordered two railroads, BNSF and Canadian Pacific, to ensure the delivery of fertilizer for spring planting. A BNSF spokesperson said in an interview that the railroad is not favoring oil over fertilizer. Traffic is up, but consumer products are the growth leader, not crude oil. BNSF does say it sets rates individually, according to the market.  Canadian Pacific says it also sets rates individually, depending on the type of freight. 

“It’s called differential pricing,"  says Steve Sharp,  president of Consumers United for Rail Equity. "The railroads charge different prices per car or per pound or whatever, depending on the commodity and what they think the market will bear.”

Sharp notes that  power companies trying to get shipments of coal are having problems, too. He says, because a lot of the shipping contracts are private, it’s hard to compare prices for shipping oil via train with other commodities.

“That’s one of the issues as shippers we have," he says, "we don’t have access to a lot of good current data to really tell where we are.”

The National Surface Transportation Board, which issued the order, says it’s tracking the railroads’ fertilizer shipments. Their first reports are due this Friday.

Marketplace for Monday April 21, 2014by Sally HershipsPodcast Title Fertilizer for farmers competes with oil for rail carsStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

For Extremists In Syria, Extortion Brings Piles Of Cash From Iraq

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 09:45

Radical rebel groups in Syria and Iraq have gained the upper hand over moderates with Mafia-style protection rackets that force ordinary Iraqis to hand over millions across the border.

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President Obama travels east, still pledging a 'pivot'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-21 09:29
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 16:11 Mandy Cheng/AFP/GettyImages

Dozens of Taiwanese fishing boats.

President Barack Obama leaves on a diplomatic trip to Asia on Wednesday. First stop, Japan. Then, on to other allies in the region—South Korea, the Phillippines and Malaysia. He’ll be talking economics, and trade, and cooperation—to try to signal to these Pacific Rim allies that the U.S. is serious about its stated aim to ‘pivot’ toward them. Analysts say the President needs to convince them that the U.S. will back them up in their regional competition with rivals like China, as tensions have heated up over conflicts in the East China Sea.

For decades, America focused primarily on allies and enemies across the Atlantic. But, more and more U.S. trade and investment are happening across the Pacific. Stephen Biddle teaches international affairs at George Washington University, and is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He says so far, the shift of military capability toward the Western Pacific has been minimal.

“2,500 U.S. Marines, for example, were sent to bases in Australia,” he says. There are more ships going to Japan and Singapore, and ultimately the U.S. plans to put 60 percent of naval and air forces into the Pacific—up from 50 percent today. Key Pacific allies—Japan, South Korea, and Australia—plan to purchase American-made F-35 fighter jets, which will allow more cooperation and joint operations in the area.

“There’s going to be a different future budgetary fate for the parts of the U.S. military that are relatively better suited to the Pacific,” Biddle explains. He says Navy and Air Force units will be needed to cross the long distances, and to cover the large expanses of ocean in the Pacific Rim. Army and Marine Corps units, which have been deployed heavily in Europe and the Middle East, will be less useful there, and will likely be cut more as a result.

Right now, defense spending is not going up—due to the drawdown from Middle East wars, and Congress’s sequester budget cuts.

“In terms of dollars, frankly, we have not seen much of a shift in the way the Department of Defense has allocated its resources toward the kind of capabilities that I think might be needed in the future in the Pacific region,” says former Air Force official Mark Gunzinger, now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Gunzinger lists potential threats, starting with China, which has been boosting defense spending by double-digits: “Precision-guided anti-ship cruise missiles, advanced air defenses, undersea warfare systems, attack submarines . . .” Gunzinger says crucial shipping lanes, and strategic access to the area for the U.S. and its allies, could be blocked by these and other weapons that China is developing.

But defense analyst Mark Jacobson at the Truman National Security Project points out that the U.S. does not need to meet the security challenges in the region alone; nor are U.S. allies fatigued and depleted, as America’s European allies were at the end of World War II, when the current projection of U.S. power into the Atlantic sphere of influence was implemented.

“You’re talking about some of the world’s strongest economies,” says Jacobson. “With their power comes some responsibility for their own defense. And I don’t think this is lost on the South Koreans, the Australians, or the Japanese, at all.”

Marketplace for Monday April 21, 2014by Mitchell HartmanPodcast Title Following The Money – A Real Pivot Or Not?Story Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

America's Less Religious: Study Puts Some Blame On The Internet

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 09:19

A computer scientist used statistical modeling to prove how America is losing its religion. Other factors: A drop in religious upbringing and an increase in college-level education.

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PODCAST: Is Netflix the new cable?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:52
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 09:23 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California.

Two things Netflix-related happened last week. One, Netflix released a trailer for the new season of Orange is the New Black. Two, we got more evidence that Netflix is the new cable.
Data in a new report show nearly 1 in 5 homes with a Netflix or Hulu subscription has no cable.

Once upon a time, we saw Japan as a massive exporter of things like cars, televisions and electronics. That was then. Today there's word Japan's trade deficit surged 70 percent over the last year. The BBC's economics correspondent Andrew Walker's been following this and joined us to discuss.

Meanwhile, a movie you may have never heard of has quietly made a fortune at the box office. The budget of the Christian indie film "God's Not Dead" was dirt cheap relative to other films atop the box office charts. The production budget was less than $3 million, but faith-based movies have a way of making good money using unconventional marketing, all while flying far below the mainstream radar.

 

Marketplace Morning Report for Monday, April 21, 2014by David BrancaccioPodcast Title PODCAST: Is Netflix the new cable?Syndication All in onePMPApp Respond No

Parents Say 234 Girls Are Missing From School In Nigeria

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:42

Accounts have varied widely about what has happened to girls and young women presumed kidnapped by Islamist extremists. Authorities say 85 are unaccounted for. Families say the number is much higher.

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Lead Poisoning Nightmare In Nigeria May Be Easing

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:41

Four years ago, hundreds of children died, exposed to lead dust that was everywhere, created in a rush to process ore for gold. Nigeria is finding its own path to curb that dust — and save kids.

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Hunger Games: College Athletes Make Play For Collective Bargaining

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:37

The NCAA council approved new rules allowing student athletes unlimited snacks and meals after a star athlete complained about his hunger. But student advocates say they're still waiting to unionize.

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Rand Paul Bids To Loosen Democratic Hold On African-American Vote

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:35

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a top 2016 GOP presidential prospect, is stirring curiosity among black leaders for his outreach efforts and activism in reforming mandatory sentencing laws.

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Library Of Congress, How Could You Forget Run-D.M.C?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:21

The Library of Congress recently added 25 new recordings to its National Recording Registry, but none of them were hip-hop or rap songs. Did it miss a beat?

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Security Threats Hit Deeper Than Heartbleed Bug

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:20

The recent Heartbleed bug may have prompted many people to change their passwords, but as the Huffington Post's Gerry Smith explains, hackers have been taking sensitive information hostage for years.

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Obama Seeks Wider Authority To Release Drug Offenders

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:20

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the administration expects to broaden criteria under which federal prisoners convicted of drug offenses can apply for pardons or reduced sentences.

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No Longer Marching Out To Work, More Mothers Stay Home

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-21 08:18

A growing number of American mothers are staying home to raise their children, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. Listeners share their own stories about making that choice.

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