The country's biggest cell phone companies -- Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon -- are uniting with AT&T in their first joint advertising program to help prevent teens from texting while driving. The campaign is called, "It Can Wait."
Over 40 percent of teens say they’ve texted while driving. Karen Torres, a mom of two on Long Island, is terrified of how comfortable her kids are with technology.
“My oldest daughter will be getting her permit October first. I’m scared to death. I’m scared to death,” she says.
That’s because Karen’s daughter is a texter.
“One month last year, she had 19,411 text messages in a month,” Torres says.
AT&T and Sprint have created apps to stop teens from texting while driving. And AT&T says last year it spent tens of millions of dollars on its “It Can Wait" campaign. Even Allstate offers Bluetooth hardware to keep teens focused on the road. But the phones and apps that teens use are updated faster than you can compose a text.
Jeff Kagan, a tech industry analyst, says the ever changing world of tech has the creators of text-blocking software stuck playing a permanent game of catch-up.
“Think about it like the radar detector in your car, versus the speed gun that the police use -- the technologies continue to get better every year. The solution that will work today, won’t work tomorrow,” he says.
Some texting blocking apps, like AT&T’s Drive Mode are free. Others charge a monthly fee of a few dollars.
But Andrea Matwyshyn, a professor of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton, notes that distracted driving isn’t caused by texting alone.
“It is kids putting on their makeup and driving. It is kids reaching for their music collections while they’re driving,” she says.
Matwyshyn says kids need to learn judgment. “Whenever you have a tech-driven attempt to solve a developmental problem for kids, it will fail without a concerned education based interpersonal effort. Technology can’t solve the problems that kids experience as they’re growing up, to learn to be functioning human beings in our society. No app will ever be the killer solution for that.”
Karen Torres, the mom whose daughter is about to get her permit, knows the importance of education. A distracted driver hit and killed her father six years ago. Now Torres works with the Texting Awareness Foundation as a speaker at schools.
“What’s really scary is that when I ask the kids how many of their parents text and drive, probably about three-quarters of the classroom raise their hands,” she says.
Torres says should teens should use these apps. But she also says there’s another very simple piece of technology drivers should keep in mind -- the off button.
This morning, city officials in Nashville cut the ribbon on the largest public building project in its history -- a new convention hall called the Music City Center.
But Nashville isn't just the latest city to open a convention center. These mammoth buildings are opening or getting facelifts coast-to-coast. And standing out now takes more than a huge exhibition space and easy access.
“Once upon a time, convention centers were referred to as a ‘box with docks,’” says TVS Design principal Andy McLean. “There was not a lot of architecture going on.”
McLean’s Atlanta-based firm designed the Music City Center along with more than 60 other convention centers around the country, including a recent facelift to the Cobo Center in Detroit.
McLean calls Nashville’s center a “culmination” after years of design evolution. There’s natural light everywhere and glass on all sides, meant to cut down on the fortress-like feeling. The glass offers good views of the city, but it also has a practical function. The nearby buildings should help visitors orient themselves in the convention center.
“Many times you get in convention centers, you get lost. You don’t know where you are,” says Seab Tuck of Nashville-based Tuck Hinton Architects, part of the design team. “This building is so simple.”
Instead of a maze of hallways, there is essentially a ring of open corridors that surround the exhibit space, ballrooms and meeting rooms.
In terms of creature comforts, there is free Wi-Fi. There’s a plan to allow conventioneers headed to the airport to check their bags at the center giving them more time to roam the city.
On the softer side, this building had a $2 million art budget, with specially commissioned pieces. Many are inspired by one of the city’s leading industries: music.
The 1.2 million-square-foot building itself has takes cues from the city’s calling card. From the air, part of the roof looks like an acoustic guitar body. The four-acre green roof has hints of a fret board. The 57,000 square foot grand ballroom is meant to look like the inside of an acoustic guitar.
The rippled roof is probably the most iconic feature, running the three-block length of the building. It made the project more expensive because it cut down on repetitive structural forms. Each crossbeam had to be specially designed.
The exhibit hall is far from the biggest, but it’s intended to have unique capabilities. For instance, 400 anchor points in the rafters can each support as much as one ton, giving the ability to hoist small cars into the air.
City officials have been on the defensive about the nearly $600 million price tag, even though it’s supposed to be paid for by visitor taxes on hotels and rental cars.
They hope the design will help distinguish Nashville among convention destinations, because there are several projects in the pipeline. Cleveland opens a new facility this summer. And some of the country’s largest convention centers have seen business drop off in an increasingly saturated market.
“We’re going to do very well. We’ve been doing well,” predicts Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. “We’re not asking the building to suddenly make Nashville a popular place to come to. It already is.”
Host Michel Martin looks into why some non-profits are tax exempt, and how something like the recent IRS flap could happen. She speaks with David Cay Johnston, a columnist for Tax Analysts and reporter Brentin Mock of Colorlines.com.
A 3-year-old grizzly in Alaska found a GoPro camera that had been set up to capture nature scenes. The result: Very upclose video. Warning: If slobber and big teeth aren't your thing, this video may not be for you.
Turness becomes the first female president of one of the big three television networks in the U.S. She is scheduled to take the helm in August.
People are notorious for under-reporting what they consume — they lie, forget or just guess wrong. For researchers who want to know how much soda we're drinking, a high-tech analysis technique could help.
The opposition from the National CIS Council is a boost to the National ICE Council, which until now had been the lone voice of opposition among enforcement unions.
Prayers said before meetings of the town board in Greece, N.Y., have predominantly been Christian. A lower court ruled that officials hadn't done enough to seek out prayers from other faiths. That violates the Constitution's Establishment Clause, the court said. Now the Supreme Court will weigh in.
What happens if the Federal Reserve takes away the big can of sterno it put under the U.S. economy?
Public pension funds rebound from recession. But for some the recovery still doesn't mean they are doing as well as they should.
Yahoo's Tumblr acquisition is a big part the mission for new CEO Marissa Mayer -- a mission to make the aging Internet company cool again.
Yahoo expects the Tumblr deal to increase its audience by 50 percent to more than a billion visitors a month. But the most important thing about those new users is, they’re young.
“You know, the cool, the hip," says IDC tech analyst Ramon Llams. "The people who use Tumblr pretty much each and every single day. So it’s tapping into an area that Yahoo has slowly been losing share to.”
But a lot could go wrong. Yahoo has bought other Internet startups, only to let them wither away, like Flickr. Yahoo acknowledged this in the press release announcing the Tumblr deal with a “promise not to screw it up.”
Audio Extra: Tech analyst Greg Stergling shares his thoughts on Yahoo's purchase and whether the company can monetize Tumblr's young user base.
Greg Sterling, tech analyst with Opus Research, says, for one thing, Yahoo shouldn’t immediately blanket Tumblr with banner ads.
“If Yahoo were to show up and start throwing traditional banners in there, you’d have a lot of people objecting and it would not be particularly effective.”
Especially since Tumblr CEO David Karp has resisted advertising.
It remains to be seen whether money can buy hipness, but it can certainly buy brainpower. Since Marissa Mayer took the helm of Yahoo, the company has been acquiring tech and media brains.
A look at Yahoo's recent run on brainpower:
Yahoo purchased Stamped, which was Mayer's first acquisition as CEO, in October of 2012. Stamped is a New York City start-up with a mobile app that allows users to record and share recommendations with friends. All of Stamped's nine employees were reported to join Yahoo.
In December of 2012, Yahoo purchased video chat broadcasting app OnTheAir. The app lets people webcast single or splitscreen interviews. All five members of the start-up joined Yahoo's mobile team.
In January of 2013, Yahoo acquired Snip.It, a Pinterest-like app which lets users clip and display news articles. All but one of Snip.It's 10-person staff were reported to join Yahoo.
Mayer made a move to purchase Propeld, the maker of mobile app Alike, which lets users mark nearby venues as "favorites," in February of 2013. After the acquisition, the Alike team moved over to work at Yahoo.
In March, Yahoo purchased Jybe, a startup food, event, book, and movie recommendations service that hopes to "help connect people with the world around them." Jybe was founded by three ex-Yahoo employees, who will now re-enter the company fold.
Last month, Yahoo acquired news-reading app Summly from its 17-year-old founder Nick D'Aloisio. D'Aloisio is working with the company to incorporate Summly's technology, which translates long-form news stories into shorter summaries, into Yahoo's mobile apps.
This week, America's head central banker, Ben Bernanke, gives his economic report card to Congress. At least one president in the Federal Reserve system is saying that this summer the Fed will taper off from its stimulus measures.
Julia Coronado, chief North American economist at BNP Paribas, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain what that could mean for the economy.
Also: the two FBI agents killed in a training accident were members of an elite team; severe weather continues across the nation's midsection; car bombs kill dozens in Iraq; and the Powerball winner is still a mystery.
Say what you will about United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek and his counterpart at Boeing, Jim McNerney -- they put their money where their mouths are.
Best part? Smisek and McNerney even sat back in coach.
Yahoo will pay about $1.1 billion for the six-year-old blogging site. Tumblr's leadership won't change and Yahoo promises it will be independently operated.
Christopher Lorek and Stephen Shaw were members of the bureau's Hostage Rescue Team, which stands ready to deploy around the nation and the world. They died while training offshore near Virginia Beach, Va.
The heads of the country’s biggest public employment retirement systems are meeting this week in Honolulu to discuss pensions. Public employee pension funds took a big hit during the recession. Between 2008 and 2009, state and local governments lost about 30 percent of revenues.
David Draine, senior researcher with The Pew Charitable Trusts, says most of that was from their investments.
“Equities and real estate, in bonds, and all those things took a real hit when the markets tanked," Draine says.
Since then, we have seen some improvements.
“It is true that equity markets have done better over the last year or two,” says Jeffrey Brown, the professor of finance at the College of Business at Illinois.
But that can only do so much. The recession shed light on a bigger problem. When times were good or better, state and local governments didn’t put aside as much money as they should have.
“When you do that for long enough, what happens in financial markets, while important, pales in comparison to the size of the underfunding,” Brown says.
The concern is these plans will run out of money and future retirees won’t get the benefits they’ve been promised. There are plenty of public employment retirement systems that are doing better, but that doesn’t mean they’re in great shape.
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, for instance, is the nation’s second largest pension fund, and while the value of its portfolio is almost back to what it was before the recession hit, CalSTRS is still underfunded.
“The hole in some of these states, like Illinois, New Jersey, California, and so forth…the hole is so large that really there is no way out of it without imposing pain on lots of people, including the people in the system, including taxpayers,” Brown says.
In some places, that’s started to happen. According to Tracy Gordon, with the Brookings Institution, people are coming to the table who haven’t in the past, to talk about changing cost structure and raising the retirement age.
“A lot of states have moved in that direction, but of course they’re not going to see the benefits for several years,” she says.
Gordon says reform takes time, and it’s not easy.
Things have been electric on the Japanese stock market recently, with the Nikkei reaching 5 year highs. But the country is in need of energy and is hunting for it in innovative ways at home and overseas.
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain.
Quidditch was invented "in a small hotel in Manchester after a row with my then boyfriend," writes the Harry Potter creator. Other book news: Ireland puts an entire short story on a postage stamp; Daniel Handler on Midwestern literature; and the best books coming out this week.
Consider, for a moment, the lot of the uber-wealthy Cabinet nominee. Forced to provide 184 pages of financial disclosure, just for the privilege of submitting herself for public service; forced to reveal the most intimate details of her investments and liabilities to the Senate and the nation.
This is the prep required for Penny Pritzker, 54, to try to become the next Secretary of Commerce. The Chicago philanthropist, Democratic fundraiser (she was finance chair of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign), and Hyatt Hotels heir goes before a Senate Committee this week to face questions about her political, business and financial connections.
Admittedly, not many Cabinet secretaries these days are thousand-aires -- millionaire is more common.
But Penny Pritzker -- heir to a hotel, real estate and industrial fortune -- is a billionaire, with a "B." Forbes pegs her net worth at $1.85 billion, making her the 277th richest person in America. According to her financial disclosures, she runs a quarter-million-dollar tab on American Express and carries tens of thousands more on her Chase and Neiman Marcus credit cards.
So there are sure to be financial entanglements to untangle in Senate hearings this week.
“She and her family are so wealthy that they own investments and stocks that pretty much cover the entire economic field,” says Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen in Washington. Ten other family members whose wealth derives from the hotel chain and related businesses are reportedly also billionaires.
Holman says in preparation for her confirmation hearing, having been nominated by President Obama, Pritzker will have already worked extensively with the Office of Government Ethics and the General Counsel’s office to determine which stocks, bonds, and other investments she will plan to sell or shift into blind trusts if confirmed. That is in order to avoid any perceived conflict of interest in her decisions once she is Commerce Secretary. Holman points out that John Kerry and his wife had to sell at least one hundred investments when Kerry recently became Secretary of State.
Pritzker has already said she will resign her board position with Hyatt Hotels Corp., though she will not sell her stock in the company. She says if need be, once she is Commerce Secretary, she will recuse herself from decisions or actions related to Hyatt or other hotel-related entities.
Of course, that is assuming that she and her finances make it through confirmation. Norm Ornstein, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (and author of the book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Colided With the New Politics of Extremism") has a colorful way of describing this: “The multiple proctological exams that congressional committees will put you through.”
Orenstein laments the scrutiny would-be Cabinet secretaries and Ambassadors now get, as congressional staffers from both political parties dig through the candidate's voluminous financial disclosures looking for any investments, relationships or past actions that might make the nominee politically vulnerable.
Orenstein says the disclosure and hyper-intense scrutiny is onerous even for Cabinet and Ambassadorial nominees of modest means. He estimates the typical cost of preparing oneself for confirmation hearings can run into the $35,000 range, most of it paying for lawyers and accountants. “There’ll be a few lawyers driving around D.C. in Mercedes after this is over,” he quips.
In the hearings, Pritzker can expect to be grilled in particular about her family’s multi-million-dollar trust, held in the Bahamas, of which she has been one of several family managers (she received a $54 million consulting fee last year from the trust). The trust was established to divide up the family fortune after a dispute in the early 2000s. Pritzker has said she is in the process of moving her Bahamanian trusts back under U.S. jurisdiction, now that the division of the family's holdings has been completed.
In the hearings, Pritzker’s role on the Hyatt Hotels Corp. board is also likely to be scrutinized, as the company has gotten into repeated fights with hotel unions.
Holman says if she is confirmed, Pritzker will have 90 days after taking the oath to actually complete the divestiture of her investments, and set up any blind trusts that are required.
During the recession, gold became a safe haven for U.S. investors. And in the investment world, it's widely viewed as a strong hedge against inflation. But with stock markets soaring and inflation fears easing, the price of gold is in steep decline. It's off nearly 30 percent from its peak.
For anyone shocked at how much the price of gold has dropped, don't be.
"It turns out it's a very risky investment," says Campbell Harvey, a finance professor at Duke University. He says people who stashed money in gold have been spoiled by positive returns. He adds the real price of gold is way higher than it should be. Two years ago, gold prices topped $1,900 per ounce.
"To revert to the long-run average," Harvey says, "the spot price of gold needs to drop to $800."
Ashish Bhatia, with the World Gold Council, says the price drop opens opportunities for new investors. And there's still plenty of demand for the metal itself.
"We've seen the physical demand from China and India virtually double in terms of tonnage demand from these two major markets in the gold market," Bhatia says.
He notes gold still has its place, just as long as investors don't put all their eggs into one golden basket.