National News

Jawbone Fossil Fills Big Gap In Human Evolution, Scientists Say

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 10:37

Writing in Science, scientists say the 2.8-million-year-old fossil appears to belong to an individual from the beginning of the ancestral line that led to humans.

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Using personal email addresses for work isn't uncommon

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 09:40

Hillary Clinton used a personal email account while Secretary of State instead of an official government address – a possible breach of open-records laws which will likely be much-discussed during the 2016 presidential campaign.

But setting aside Clinton and the particulars of her case, to what extent is this an issue in the corporate world?

Using a personal email for work is fairly common and often driven by convenience, says Jill Fisch, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. John Challenger, the CEO of the outplacement and research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., says there’s often not a strict boundary between work and personal life these days. 

Still, many companies try to make employees use their email to preserve records or because it may be more secure. 

In regulated industries, using work email is a must, says Michael Rivera, chair of Venable LLP’s Securities Enforcement and Compliance Practice.

“Particularly broker dealers, for example, they have to have a system in place to capture every single email that comes in and out of that firm to be able to satisfy their obligations to retain emails."

Toyota tries to break out of its island mindset

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 09:40

For the first time in company history, Toyota promoted a non-Japanese employee — Frenchman Didier Leroy — to the level of executive vice president.

To many observers, it addresses a broader problem at Japan Inc.: That its products and organizations have evolved mainly to survive in the home market, and now, it’s time to globalize.

Arthur Alexander, an economist and visiting professor at Georgetown University, says Toyota sells lots of cars abroad, yet “upper management has been very traditional.” The Japan-based decision makers must adapt, because “they can see what’s happening around them to these post-war dynamic companies falling on hard times.”

One of Toyota’s wake-up calls was a quality crisis where cars suddenly accelerated. The company blamed bad drivers and floor mats, and a public relations disaster ensued. Independent analyst Alan Baum in West Bloomfield, Michigan, faults an insular, hierarchical corporate culture.

“Because the decision-making process was still restricted to a smaller group of people in Japan,” Baum says, “it simply took awhile to get up the chain and they weren’t able to act as quickly as they would like.”



The Fed's 2009 transcripts show 299 'instances of laughter'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 09:40

The Federal Reserve released the transcripts of its 2009 meetings and conference calls today — all 1,648 pages of 'em.

A quick word search this morning revealed the following: In those pages, there are 237 mentions of the word "recession," 242 mentions of "interest rates," and, for what it's worth, 299 instances of laughter being noted in the transcript.

To be fair, sometimes macroeconomics can be kind of funny.

Also, in the March 2009 meeting, Janet Yellen, then the head of the San Francisco Fed, said the economy was so lousy that it needed so much help that the Federal Funds rate, the Fed's main interest rate, ought to have been at -0.6 percent.

Think about that for a minute.

Ferguson Report: Justice Dept. Says Wilson Won't Face Civil Rights Charges

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 09:32

The report concludes "that Darren Wilson's actions do not constitute prosecutable violations under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute."

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UK Government Is Selling Its Share Of Eurostar

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 09:07

The move is part of an effort by the British government to sell off national assets to raise $20 billion by the year 2020.

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People With Eczema Are Itching For Better Health Care

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 09:01

Just a rash? Not if you have eczema. People with eczema often have a hard time finding appropriate health care and are apt to miss work dealing with the chronic skin problem, a study finds.

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The British Group With A Very Different Take On 'Jihadi John'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 08:55

Cage is a controversial group founded by a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay. It has presented a sympathetic portrait of 'Jihadi John,' drawing criticism that it defends terror.

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Turkish Airlines' Near-Miss Creates Big Problem At Kathmandu's Tiny Airport

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 08:51

What do you do when a plane crash-lands at your country's only international airport and you have no equipment to move it out of the way? Nepalese airport officials are grappling with that question.

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Spain's Wine Exports Soar 22 Percent — But Profits Fall

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 08:50

Spain's wine industry had a record year in 2014, posting numbers that could propel it past Italy as the world's biggest wine exporter. But most of the wine was sold cheaply, in bulk.

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Quiz: Student loans with staying power

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 08:33

Still paying college debt? You’re not alone, according to the New York Federal Reserve, which examined how long it takes to pay student loans.

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Putin Speaks About The Killing Of Kremlin Critic Boris Nemtsov

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 08:11

Russia's president said Nemtsov's death was a shameful tragedy. Nemtsov was gunned down near the Kremlin on Friday. His supporters blame the Russian authorities.

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The Magic Trick That Could Shorten The FAFSA

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 07:36

The IRS and the Education Department already have the power to make the FAFSA easier without cutting questions. So why haven't they?

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A Few Reactions to the DOJ's 'Scathing' Report on Ferguson Cops And Racial Bias

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 07:33

Racists emails and shocking statistics will be on display when the Justice Department (officially) releases a report about the Ferguson Police Department.

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The New York Times picks up where SkyMall left off

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-04 07:15

When it began a little over a decade ago, the New York Times store was only meant to satisfy readers seeking reprints of articles.

It has since blossomed into a destination for hostess gifts, where shoppers can find anything from a personalized oak wine barrel, to a vintage English silver cream jug, to a novelty cutting board shaped like a pig. And recently the site got a makeover, further differentiating it from the online stores of other media outlets. As a press release for the relaunch boasts, the new online shop offers "personalized products that are curated for and recommended to each individual shopper."

Those personalized oak wine barrels went like hot cakes. The Times sold 10,000 in the first quarter they were offered, says Joseph Adelantar, executive director of retail for The New York Times Store.

"Our readers have an affinity for something special.  They want something that has some kind of a background to it, or some kind of historical note, rather than just saying here’s a beautiful watch and it’s gold," he says.

But at the NPR Shop, fans love the more practical items.

“When I started I thought we’re never going to sell a tote bag or a mug, because everyone that’s involved in public broadcasting has those things from a pledge drive," says Barbara Sopato, director of consumer products and e-commerce for NPR. "But those are huge sellers for us."

It seems nothing shows your love for public radio like the humble canvas tote bag, a perennial fan favorite.

NPR shoppers, notes Sopata, are eco-conscious. They also tend to have pets and a lot are gardeners or cooks says Sopata, who notes every spring she's sure to offer up some gardening merchandising. But overall, they're curious. A public radio fan doesn't just want a cocktail, Sopata says, hey want a book that shows what plants are grown to make the booze so they can talk about the drink's origins at happy hour. So that's what Sopata sells. 

But Margaret Duffy, director of the Institute for Advertising Ethics at the Missouri school of journalism, says that for media outlets, a snazzy store isn't just about the cash in the till. After all, it's one thing to sell a branded sweatshirt, mug and cuff links, and another altogether to land a corporate advertising campaign. If media outlets play their cards right, she says, they can use their sales as bait, to lure in bigger fish.

“One of the things they would clearly like to tell their advertisers is that they have a demographic that is willing and able to spend significantly on products and services," she says.

Say, an antique brass clock in the Times store for $6,500.  

When it all comes down to it, “media outlets are brands," says Allen Adamson, chairman of branding firm Landor's North American headquarters. "The New York Times is as much a brand as Pepsi, Coke or McDonalds.”

And just like any other retailer, Adamson says, a media store has to know what its customers want.

“So, the [Times] you’d want to sell upscale, powerfully intellectual brand items,” he says.

"These are products for people who have a very curated life style," says Marissa Gluck of the digital branding agency Huge.

"If you’re an NPR listener, you’re probably likely to drink craft beer and, you know, enjoy artisanal cheese," Gluck says. "Fox is maybe a little bit older, certainly not fashion-forward."

But for most media outlets, it's not the coffee cup or baseball cap they're trying to sell, but the logo on the front or side, Gluck says.

“Their primary revenue stream is advertising – it’s not really selling sweatshirts for 50 bucks a pop," she says.

Five more strange finds from the depths of the New York Times store

  1. A rare German console set sells for $3,200 (conveniently linked to the store's silver polish listing) for the hostess with the most-est.
  2. Your Titanic aficionado friend might have a boat replica, but they definitely need a 1912 Ford truck model replica, carrying paper bundles announcing the disaster - on sale for $99.99.
  3. The Times didn't forget about Fido. On sale for $24.99, this houndstooth dog leash and matching color seems like a great deal for stylish pups.
  4. Dad blazed through that Abraham Lincoln biography you gave him last year? No worries, the Times can sell you a rare, original tintype photo of the president on a ribbon for $2,325.
  5. If you have been scouring the internet for a puzzle that appeals to both cat fans and/or people who love shaped jigsaws, look no further than this $50 tapestry cat wooden jigsaw puzzle.

What's A Patient To Do When Hospital Ratings Disagree?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 06:25

Many people check up on hospitals before they check in as patients. But there's a catch. A hospital that gets lauded by one group can be panned by another.

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Born In 1898: World's Oldest Living Person Celebrates Birthday

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 06:25

Misao Okawa of Japan is now 117. She has reigned as the world's oldest living person since 2013, when Guinness World Records certified that she was 115.

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Japanese World War II Battleship Musashi Found, Billionaire Paul Allen Says

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 06:01

The Microsoft co-founder says his team found the ship's wreckage in the Sibuyan Sea off the Philippines. The vessel was sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944.

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Rapper Jin Tries To Stretch His '15 Minutes' Of Fame

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 05:50

In 2004, Jin was one of the first Asian-Americans to drop a major label rap album. One controversial song, "Learn Chinese," raised eyebrows. A decade later, he's trying to rephrase the message.

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Man's Identity Questioned In LAPD Skid Row Shooting

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-04 05:12

Officials say the man killed Sunday was the subject of a federal warrant for violating probation for a 2000 bank robbery. There's also word that he lived under a stolen identity.

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