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The Risky Boom In Carefree Social Payment Apps

Apr 7, 2015

The other morning, I asked my friend Amanda Mae Meyncke, a writer here in Los Angeles, to explain an app to me.

I used my debit card to pay for our order of coffee and toast, and then got her to pay me back with this app she uses, Venmo.

It's what's known as a peer-to-peer finance app, which is Silicon Valley's way of saying that it lets people pay each other without handling cash or swiping cards. People like to use it to split bills.

To get started, she opened up the app.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For more on Rand Paul's candidacy, joining us now is NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro. Welcome to the studio.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Thank you very much for having me.

The old saying goes, "Nothing is certain except death and taxes." But the Affordable Care Act has added a new wrinkle.

For many policyholders, the ACA has introduced a good deal of uncertainty about their tax bills. That has led to surprise refunds for some and higher-than-expected tax payments for others.

State officials released the details of New Jersey's proposed $225 million settlement with ExxonMobil on Monday, giving us a closer look at one of the largest environmental settlements in the state's history.

Environmentalists complain the company is getting off easy after polluting wetlands for many decades. The settlement focuses on two of Exxon's former refineries, Bayonne and Linden, in northern New Jersey.

A report released Sunday about a Rolling Stone magazine story detailing an alleged rape at the University of Virginia is one more chapter in a long, troubling story for the campus.

NPR's Melissa Block interviews David Albright, a former nuclear inspector and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, about what needs to be in a final agreement on Iran's nuclear program and how inspections would work.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Sea level rise is beginning to affect the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A protective dune not too far from the launchpads has collapsed and waves have washed over railroad tracks built in the 1960s. Now NASA is taking steps to protect its launch infrastructure.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

Last month, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill bringing back the firing squad as a method of execution. The state abandoned firing squads in 2004 but now, it has returned as the backup option — partly because of a shortage of lethal injection drugs, the state's default execution method.

Utah is now the only state in the U.S. that authorizes execution by firing squad.

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown made water conservation mandatory in the drought-stricken state of California. "As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can," he said.

But if the four-year drought continues, conservation alone — at least what's required by the governor's plan — won't fix the problem.

Across California, communities are examining all options to avoid running out of water. Some, like the coastal city of Santa Barbara, are looking to the past for inspiration.

It's just two days before the 2015 Arnold Strongman Classic, an international competition for strongmen and strongwomen in Columbus, Ohio, and Brittany Diamond is worried.

As a relative newcomer to the sport, the 22-year-old from Boston has never even seen the 100-pound dumbbell she'll soon be asked to lift and press with just one arm.

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