All Things Considered

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Colorado Community Pushes Back Against Fracking

Colorado Community Pushes Back Against Fracking

A short segment (4 min.) on NPR’s All Things Considered discussed the ballot initiatives in few Colorado communities that would put limits on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing.

Here is how the story began:

The 2013 election marked a victory for foes of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Colorado. Voters in three Front Range communities decided to put limits on the practice.

Next week, the north Denver suburb of Broomfield will launch a closely watched vote recount on a proposed moratorium there.

Oil and gas companies say the measures create an uncertain business environment.

During its original vote count, Broomfield felt more like Miami-Dade County circa 2000 than a sleepy Denver suburb. About two dozen lawyers and other observers invested in the outcome of the proposed five-year fracking moratorium crowded into a windowless room.

Cuts in Food Stamps Hurt Rural Areas

Cuts in Food Stamps Hurt Rural Areas

Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, All Things Considered a rather depressing story about how reductions in food stamp spending is expected to have a particularly deleterious effect on rural families.  

Here is how the story (4 minutes)  began: 

One recent evening, some shoppers at the Countryside Market in Belvidere, Ill., were loading up on staples, like milk and eggs. Others, like Meghan Collins, were trying to plan Thanksgiving on a newly tightened budget.

“My work has been cut,” says Collins. “I’m working half the hours I used to work. So yeah, I’m making half of what I made last year.”

That could be bad news for stores like Countryside, which are already bracing for the ripple effect from the recent $5 billion reduction in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. It’s the first Thanksgiving since a temporary increase in those benefits expired on Nov. 1, affecting some 47 million Americans.

The Problem with Possibly Postponing the ACA’s Insurance Mandate

The Problem with Possibly Postponing the ACA’s Insurance Mandate

Yesterday, NPR’s Story of the Day podcast replayed a story from All Things Considered which discusses the problems created by the glitches in the governments Affordable Care Act (ACA) website. Some critics of the ACA are calling for a delay in the implementation of the insurance mandate.  If people cannot sign up for insurance with the government, how can the government penalize people for not having insurance?  As the story explains, the seemingly simple fix of delaying the insurance mandate is complicated. 

Here is are excerpts from the story: 

One of the big questions now circulating concerns what will happen if the website can’t be fixed soon. Will the government really penalize people for not having insurance if they can’t realistically buy it?

Technically, people are supposed to have coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014. But there’s a 90-day grace period, meaning you actually have until the end of March, which is also when the current open enrollment period ends. . . .

Even the administration says it wants to fix this. At a briefing Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “In terms of the Feb. 15 date that you just mentioned, there’s no question that there’s a disconnect between open enrollment and the individual responsibility time frames in the first year only. And those are going to be addressed.”

And if that mismatch does get changed, it would give people an additional month and a half to sign up without risking a penalty — and without extending the existing open enrollment date.

But what about the possibility of extending the enrollment period, which even some Democratsare now calling for if the website isn’t fixed soon? Or of waiving the penalty for the first year?

That’s where you start to run into big issues with the insurance companies that are offering these products in the exchanges. They set their premiums based on the rules as they’re written — that healthy young people would be strongly encouraged to sign up by the prospect of a penalty, and that they would be encouraged to sign up within this six-month window.

Story of the day: Mean Mom Genes

Story of the day: Mean mom Genes

NPR’s All Things Considered ran a story about how, according to neutroscientists, tough economic times could affect parenting, specifically mothering.

Here is the introduction to segment:

A gene that affects the brain’s dopamine system appears to have influenced mothers’ behavior during a recent economic downturn, researchers say.

At the beginning of the recession that began in 2007, mothers with the “sensitive” version of a gene called DRD2 became more likely to strike or scream at their children, the researchers say. Mothers with the other “insensitive” version of the gene didn’t change their behavior.

But once it appeared that the recession would not become a full-fledged depression, the “sensitive” mothers became less likely than “insensitive” mothers to engage in harsh parenting.

“You have the same genes, and with a different environment it’s a completely different story,” says Irwin Garfinkel, a professor of contemporary urban problems at Columbia University. “I think that’s the most amazing part of what we found.”

Private Equity and Marijuana Inc.

Private Equity and Marijuana Inc.

NPR’s All Things Consider ran a story about how investment bankers are beginning to look at the marijuana industry as a potential investment opportunity.

Here is an introduction to the story:  

A couple of guys with serious investment banking experience are moving into the marijuana business. They’ve launched the first multimillion-dollar private equity fund devoted entirely to what they like to call the “cannabis space.”

It started when Brendan Kennedy was working at the Silicon Valley Bank and learned of an entrepreneur who wanted to sell software for marijuana dispensaries. The idea piqued Kennedy’s interest. A few days later, a radio show about legalizing pot piqued it even more.

There’s an opportunity here, he thought, and picked up the phone and called his Yale business school buddy, Michael Blue. He told Blue he thought his friend needed to quit his job and come start a company in the cannabis industry.