National / International News

Islamic State eyes al-Qaeda lands

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 13:09
The Islamic State group is forging links with militants across North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, challenging its al-Qaeda rivals.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder Turns To Voters To Approve Tax Increase

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 13:09

Some states are experiencing major budget deficits and several Republican governors are opting to increase taxes to make up for the shortfall. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder talks to Robert Siegel

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Close Friend Of Putin Awarded Contract For Crimea Bridge

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 13:04

The span to be built across a narrow strait that separates Russia from the newly annexed peninsula, is pegged at $3 billion and scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.

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VIDEO: Suge Knight hands himself in

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 13:02
Suge Knight, the man behind the Death Row Records label, has been arrested on suspicion of hitting and killing a man with his truck.

Is There A #PubRadioVoice That Sounds Like America?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:59

Earlier this week, we hosted a Twitter chat that tackled questions about diversity in public radio and the pressure some journalists of color feel to sound "white."

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Bournemouth 2-0 Watford

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:57
Championship leaders Bournemouth beat Watford 2-0 with the visitors playing all but the first 28 seconds with 10 men.

There's no such thing as nacho cheese

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:55

Bloomberg Businessweek associate editor Venessa Wong was reporting a story on the launch of Old El Paso’s new nacho cheese-flavored taco shells. The marketers bragged about their "big, bold, cheese taste," but when she pressed harder on how, exactly, it tasted, their answer smelled.

“I couldn’t get a straight answer,” she says.

That’s when she began her investigation. What truly is nacho cheese? First she asked the manager of Cheese Education Training at the Wisconsin Marketing Board, “and she tells me, ‘there really is not a nacho cheese, per se,’” Wong says.

She then inquired at the International Food Dairy Association, which told her: “‘There’s no standard definition of nacho cheese.’”

Wong’s sources were failing her. That’s when she researched the history of cheese. She found a 2002 article in the San Antonio Express-News  that said a man named Ignacio Anaya, whose nickname was "Nacho," created it in 1943. His main ingredient? “‘Wisconsin cheese, the round one,’” Wong says.

Old El Paso gave Wong a more philosophical answer. “‘It’s really based on what consumers are used to, and what they believe nacho flavoring is,’” she reports.

Something to mull over on Super Bowl Sunday.

The best, most straight-forward cheese sauce recipe we could find.

Source: Smells Like Home, Illustration by Kelsey Fowler/Marketplace

Latvia Keeps Careful Eye Trained On Russia

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:53

Robert Siegel speaks with Edgars Rinkevics, foreign minister of Latvia, on his visit to Washington, D.C. Rinkevics is in town to to discuss Russia and security cooperation with the U.S.

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Canadian PM seeks wider terror laws

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:52
Encouraging terror attacks against Canada will become a crime under legislation proposed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Partick Thistle 0-1 St Mirren

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:45
James Dayton scores early on his debut as St Mirren pick up three valuable Premiership points at Firhill.

England Saxons seal win over Ireland

BBC - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:45
Sam Burgess has a quiet international Union debut as England Saxons beat Ireland Wolfhounds 18-9 in Cork.

'Suge' Knight Charged With Murder After Fatal Hit-And-Run

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:39

The former rap music mogul, Marion "Suge" Knight has been arrested again — this time, on suspicion of murder. Knight allegedly ran over two people, killing one, on the set of the movie Straight Outta Compton.

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Seahawk Marshawn Lynch's Silence Becomes The Story

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:39

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has made clear he doesn't like talking to the media. But has his stance helped or hurt his Beast Mode image?

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By Impersonating Her Mom, A Comedian Grows Closer To Her

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:39

Human relationships are entanglements, and those connections often aren't clear to us at all. When Maria Bamford impersonated her mom, she realized what she loved about her — and about herself.

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The True Costs Of Community College

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:39

President Obama has proposed making tuition at community colleges free. But Youth Radio reporter Tylyn Hardamon found that paying for school is just one of many challenges facing today's students.

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Civilians In Eastern Ukraine Flee As Fighting Intensifies

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:39

Civilians in villages near the front lines in Eastern Ukraine are being forced to leave their homes as fighting intensifies between Government forces and Russian-back separatists.

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NBC Courts Women In Hopes Of Record Super Bowl Broadcast

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:37

This year's the Super Bowl telecast is targeting non-sports fans, especially women.

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Homeownership rate dips to lowest level in 20 years

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:35

New statistics from the Commerce Department show that the home-ownership rate has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years.

63.9 percent of U.S. households owned their homes in Q4 2014, down from a rate of 65.1% one year earlier. The last time homeownership was that low was in 1994. "We just have homeownership in our DNA and that's why we're so focused on this figure,” says IHS Economist Patrick Newport.

Given the national obsession with home ownership, this may seem like bad news, but the thinking on the importance of home ownership is changing, as well as what it says about the broader health of the U.S. economy.

Newport points out that previous levels of home-ownership were probably too high, due in part to all of the crazy loans and mortgage deals that banks were offering.  Homeownership is kind of a squishy measure of economic health anyway. "It’s not bad news for the economy,” says Newport, “it’s a matter of who owns the paper, the title to the home that you live in, and what we're seeing now is a trend toward landlords owning that piece of paper, not the homeowner."

Newport says the rate may yet dip even farther, since many foreclosures have yet to work their way through the system.

Another explanation for the dip in home-ownership might be because there are just more households  in the U.S. — and by “household,” we're talking about the government definition, meaning a person, or couple, living on their own. 

"Young people are going off on their own, getting out of their parents basements,” says Washington University Economist Steve Fazzari. More households means people are getting jobs. “So, if we have more households for that reason, that's really a sign of some good economic activity," says Fazzari.

The real concern with housing, he says, should be construction and new housing starts, which are lagging, and have been the key to every economic recovery since World War II.

Wages and benefits see highest bump in six years

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:35

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Cost Index says wages, salaries and benefits grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in 2014.

Economists were happy to see improvements in an index regarded as a key reflection of the labor market. “If I were going to pick one measure to look at, it would be this one,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “This is giving us a pretty definitive read on what’s going on in the labor market with regard to wages and compensation.”

Zandi likes the index because it gives a consistent look at compensation over time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys a rotating slate of firms on their employment costs, and unlike another measure of hourly wages, the index doesn’t get skewed as much by shifts in employment into, say, low-wage industries or occupations.

Employer costs are still growing slower than they were before the Great Recession. But the growth rate last year did outpace inflation, which is clocking in around 1.3 percent.

Workers’ compensation is improving as the unemployment rate falls, the available pool of workers shrinks and employers have to start spending more to get new workers in the door. “We're not all the way back to full-employment yet, but we've been for some time moving in that direction, and if we continue to move in that direction we'll see more upward pressure on wages,” says Alan Krueger, Princeton University economist.

The benefits side of the Employment Cost Index grew faster last year than wages and salaries, which breaks with recent trends, Krueger says. “We had seen health care costs growing so slowly – really exceptionally slowly – compared to the history of health care cost growth; benefits were not growing faster than wages [again] until recently,” he says.

Improvements in the benefit side of the equation will matter less to workers in the short-term, says Till von Wachter, a UCLA economist. He says the wage and salary spikes will have more immediate consequences. “Higher wages could lead to higher spending,” he says.

Wages and benefits see highest bump in 6 years

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-30 12:35

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index says wages, salaries and benefits grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in 2014.

Economists were happy to see improvements in an index regarded as a key reflection of the labor market. “If I were going to pick one measure to look at, it would be this one,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “This is giving us a pretty definitive read on what’s going on in the labor market with regard to wages and compensation.”

Zandi likes the index because it gives a consistent look at compensation over time. The BLS surveys a rotating slate of firms on their employment costs, and unlike another measure of hourly wages, the index doesn’t get skewed as much by shifts in employment into, say, low-wage industries or occupations.

Employers costs are still growing slower than they were before the Great Recession. But the growth rate last year did outpace inflation, which is clocking in around 1.3 percent.

Workers’ compensation is improving as the unemployment rate falls, the available pool of workers shrinks and employers have to start spending more to get new workers in the door. “We're not all the way back to full-employment yet, but we've been for some time moving in that direction, and if we continue to move in that direction we'll see more upward pressure on wages,” says Princeton University economist Alan Krueger.

Krueger notes that the benefits side of the Employment Cost Index grew faster last year than wages and salaries. Krueger says that breaks with recent trends, “We had seen health care costs growing so slowly — really exceptionally slowly — compared to the history of health care cost growth; benefits were not growing faster than wages [again] until recently,” he says.

Improvements in the benefit side of the equation will matter less to workers in the short-term, says Till von Wachter, an economist at the University of California Los Angeles. He says the wage and salary spikes will have more immediate consequences. “Higher wages could lead to higher spending,” he says.

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