National News

Fighting In Ukraine A Hurdle As Investigators Try To Access MH17 Site

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

International observers and air-crash experts visited previously unexamined pieces of the Malaysia Airlines wreckage Thursday and made some disturbing discoveries, including unrecovered human remains and what may be shrapnel holes in the plane's fuselage.

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Conservative Rep. DesJarlais Faces Primary Challenge In Tennessee

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

One of the most conservative members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, is defending his seat against state Sen. Jim Tracy, who is making the most of the incumbent's personal scandals.

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What's The Outlook For Nigerian Girls Kidnapped By Boko Haram?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

Renee Montagne talks with former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell for an update on the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped in April by the extremist group Boko Haram.

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Cape Cod Residents Object As Mass. Governor Offers To House Migrant Kids

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

Massachusetts is offering to house hundreds of unaccompanied minors who've been detained crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. One of the proposed sites is on Cape Cod, but residents are blasting the plan.

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'No Easy Answer': Ex-Baseball Manager La Russa On Legacy, Steroids

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

Tony La Russa, who won more games than any MLB manager in the past 60 years, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Links to steroids have kept notable players of his from getting that recognition.

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Former Student Dropped Out, But Still Appreciates A Special Teacher

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

Roger Alvarez didn't make it to graduation, but he still wants to thank his high school English teacher. (This StoryCorps interview first aired Jan. 29, 2012, on Weekend Edition.)

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France Sends Soldiers To Guard Air Algerie Wreckage In Mali

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 23:43

The MD-83 aircraft, owned by Spanish company Swiftair and leased by Algeria's flagship carrier, disappeared from radar in bad weather less than an hour after it took off; 116 people were aboard.

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Weekly Wrap: The week that was

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 23:11

David Gura talked with to Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and Linette Lopez from Business Insider for a look back at the week’s biggest business news.

Montana Senator Comes Under Fire For Plagiarism Allegations

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:56

Sen. John Walsh of Montana was appointed to his seat, and he's preparing to face voters for the first time. The Democrat's bid will be complicated by plagiarism allegations.

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Following movie stars all the way to the theater

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

Keeping with the tech-heavy theme of the broadcast today, there's a report out from Nielsen saying 87 percent of people on Twitter said their decision to see a movie was influenced by the site. 

Plus, 65 percent of people on Twitter say they follow a film-related account. That is, specific movies, theater chains and actors.

I don't get it. I mean...I get it. But I don't get it.

 

How can tech companies diversify their workforces?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

Twitter is the latest tech company to disclose statistics on the race and gender of its workforce, following Facebook, Yahoo, Google and LinkedIn. Like those companies, Twitter is falling short on diversity. Technology companies seem to recognize that there is a problem. In an email to Marketplace, Twitter pointed to a list of organizations it supports, including Girls Who Code, YearUp, Black Girls Code, and others. 

These organizations help push more women and people of color through the pipeline and into tech jobs. 

Kathryn Finney, the founder of DigitalUndivided, says for people of color, networking can be a stumbling block.

"Usually in tech, you get a job because your friend works there, or you know the founder, or you went to the same school and were classmates," says Finney. "We're not part of those networks."

Brogrammers give up some ground in comp-sci classes

But people who work in tech say helping others break in is only part of the solution.

Leigh Honeywell, a security engineer, administrator of the Geek Feminism wiki, and member of Double Union, a feminist hacker space, says women who make it through the pipeline and get jobs in tech are confronted by a culture that can be downright sexist.

"I could tell you stories that would make you be like, is this 'Mad Men?'" Honeywell says, referring to the 1960s-set AMC TV series. 

She says simply bringing diverse employees in isn't enough.

"It's really not cool to be encouraging all of these young girls and young people of color to enter a field where they are going to face discrimination," says Honeywell. "It's up to those of us that are here, both men and women to encourage attitude changes."

Graphic by Shea Huffman/Marketplace

How can tech companies diversify their workforce?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

Twitter is the latest tech company to disclose statistics on the race and gender of its workforce, following Facebook, Yahoo, Google and LinkedIn. Like those companies, Twitter is falling short on diversity. Technology companies seem to recognize that there is a problem. In an email to Marketplace, Twitter pointed to a list of organizations it supports, including Girls Who Code, YearUp, Black Girls Code, and others. 

These organizations help push more women and people of color through the pipeline and into tech jobs. 

Kathryn Finney, the founder of DigitalUndivided, says for people of color, networking can be a stumbling block.

"Usually in tech, you get a job because your friend works there, or you know the founder, or you went to the same school and were classmates," says Finney. "We're not part of those networks."

But people who work in tech say helping others break in is only part of the solution.

Leigh Honeywell, a security engineer, administrator of the Geek Feminism wiki, and member of Double Union, a feminist hacker space, says women who make it through the pipeline and get jobs in tech are confronted by a culture that can be downright sexist.

"I could tell you stories that would make you be like, is this 'Mad Men?'" Honeywell says, referring to the 1960s-set AMC TV series. 

She says simply bringing diverse employees in isn't enough.

"It's really not cool to be encouraging all of these young girls and young people of color to enter a field where they are going to face discrimination," says Honeywell. "It's up to those of us that are here, both men and women to encourage attitude changes."

GM's post-recall strategy pays dividends

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

General Motors says compensating victims of its faulty ignition switches will cost $400-600 million, maybe more. That doesn’t include repairs and other costs associated with multiple GM recalls. The company’s recall crisis isn’t readily apparent in auto sales numbers. New GM cars are selling well, without the company having to offer big incentives.

“It’s amazing. General Motors would have had an outstanding quarter had it not been for all of the costs associated with the recalls,” says AutoTrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs.

Car industry watchers credit GM’s improved public relations response after early bumbling. But not everyone is impressed.

“If I were grading them in my class, they’d get a low pass, which is sort of the equivalent of a D,” says Paul Argenti, who teaches corporate communications at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

He wants to see the company better explain how it’s going to change a corporate culture that led to serious, deadly engineering flaws getting on the road. That goes beyond a simple PR response. It’s a real leadership challenge for CEO Mary Barra. Breaking decades of bad habits is a lot harder than fixing an ignition switch.

“All of what she’s doing and all of what she says will go for naught if a year from now, it’s business as usual,” says auto analyst Maryann Keller.

Mark Garrison: You wouldn’t think GM is the company going through a recall crisis based on sales numbers.

Michelle Krebs: It’s amazing. General Motors would have had an outstanding quarter had it not been for all of the costs associated with the recalls.

AutoTrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs adds that recalls actually provide a sales opportunity.

Krebs: A lot of these recall people are coming into the dealership and liking what they see in the showroom. They get their recall fixed, but they buy a new car.

And GM is driving sales without giving away the store, says Sean McAlinden with the Center for Automotive Research.

Sean McAlinden: They have not resorted to incentive campaigns to keep their sales up. Profitability on some of their newer models is very healthy.

Car industry watchers credit GM’s improved PR response after early bumbling. But Paul Argenti, who teaches corporate communications at Dartmouth’s business school, isn’t impressed.

Paul Argenti: You know, if I were grading them in my class, they’d get a low pass, which is sort of the equivalent of a D.

He wants to see the company better explain how it’s going to change a culture that led to serious, deadly engineering flaws getting on the road.

Argenti: What people wanna know in a crisis is why it happened. But then they also wanna know why that’s just not gonna happen again.

And that’s a real leadership challenge for CEO Mary Barra. For auto analyst Maryann Keller, it’s about action, not talk.

Maryann Keller: All of what she says will go for naught if a year from now, it’s business as usual.

And breaking decades of bad habits is a lot harder than fixing an ignition switch. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Facebook mobilizes, successfully

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

A couple years ago Facebook had to prove it could figure out how to make money off its mobile services.

Consider it done. 

Revenue from mobile ads helped propel the company’s profit to $800 million in the second quarter, up from $333 million a year earlier.

Those ads feature products like furniture or detergent, and they now appear — like it or not — as regularly as your friends' adorable baby photos in your Facebook mobile news feed.

“The mobile ads business is growing faster than anyone had anticipated,” says Ben Schachter,  internet analyst with Macquarie Capital, which invests in Facebook.

Google still owns the mobile ad space. The search giant took in 42 percent of all U.S. mobile ad revenue last year, according to the research firm eMarketer. Facebook commanded about 16 percent. But Google has been losing ground and Facebook is coming on strong.

“The thing is they're growing so fast, there's already the question, when are they going to take over Google,” says Karsten Weide, vice president for media and entertainment at International Data Corporation.

But there are some tougher questions, too, like how Facebook is going to keep up its daily user base, which didn’t grow in the latest quarter, and how Facebook plans to make money off new services like private messaging and virtual reality.

UNICEF Report On Female Genital Mutilation Holds Hope And Woe

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:43

The practice is on the decline in many countries. But the population boom in Africa and the Middle East will put millions of girls at risk unless more progress is made.

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The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:26

So much of the food we eat these days is encased in plastic. And behind it is a whole lot of research and innovation. We dive into some of the materials that keep food fresh and portable.

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No deluge of campaign cash after limits end

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 12:57

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in a big campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The justices voted 5-4 to overturn certain limits on how much money Americans can give to candidates and committees.

The reaction was swift. There was concern, among the dissenting justices and campaign finance reform advocates, that the decision would open the floodgates, allowing more Americans to give more money. But so far, it seems the decision has only affected a small group.

Gone are what are called “aggregate limits” on political donations. That is, according to Emory University School of Law Professor Michael Kang, “the total amount an individual could give to candidates, parties and other PACs.”

In the past, a donor could give a maximum of $74,600 to party committees every two years, and $48,600 to federal candidates. A Republican donor named Shaun McCutcheon challenged those, and the court’s majority ruled they were unconstitutional. But, Kang says, here’s the thing: “The court striking down the aggregate limit probably won’t affect that many givers going forward.”

That’s because most Americans weren’t already affected by them.

“There really weren’t a lot of people bumping up against these aggregate limits. So, in 2012, I think the number is roughly 650 maxed out,” says Heather Gerken, a professor at Yale Law School. To “max out” means you gave as much as you could to candidates and committees – tens of thousands of dollars.

During oral arguments, the justices debated a hypothetical: With no aggregate limits, a donor could, in theory, funnel millions of dollars to a single candidate through committees. Gerken acknowledges that is plausible, but she says she doesn’t expect it will happen too often.

“If you have enough money to give $3.5 million in one check, you probably have enough money to fund your own super PAC,” she says, noting that is something many big donors have done. If you have your own super PAC, you have a lot more say over how your money gets spent.

So who has been affected most directly by the Supreme Court’s decision? Lobbyists.

Kelly Bingel is one of them. She is a big supporter of Democratic candidates.

“I think, as soon as the decision came out, every lobbyist in Washington, DC was looking at their checkbook, thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what does this mean for me?’”

A lobbyist’s checkbook gets a lot of use. Part of her job, Bingel says, is to give money to politicians. She plans for it every year.

“This was a part of my family’s budget,” she allows.

Bingel pays out of pocket to go to political fundraisers, and there are a lot of them.

“We could spend breakfast, lunch and dinner with folks,” Bingel says. “My personal preference is to have breakfast and dinner with my family.”

Bingel estimates she gets around a hundred solicitations a day, mostly by email. In the past, those aggregate limits the Supreme Court overturned gave her an easy out:

“I mean, it used to be you could say, ‘I’m sorry. I’ve hit the max.’ Now, you have to say, ‘I’m sorry. I just can’t…’”

Lobbyist Kenneth J. Kies, managing director of the Federal Policy Group, used that line.

“In my case, it was actually true,” he says.

Kies bumped up against those caps many times. He has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and Republican Party committees. 

Kies also worried about the effect of the McCutcheon decision, joking, “I was going to get rid of my email address and delist my phone number.”

One limit is still in place, a cap on how much a donor can give to a single candidate: $2,600.

“I think from the standpoint of campaign finance reformers, they feel like they dodged a bullet here,” says Kang, noting that “base limit” is something the justices could address in the future.

“I don’t think it’s too sweeping to say that the court really is on a path toward something approaching total deregulation of campaign finance,” he says.

If that limit on individual donations were to disappear, that would affect many more Americans.

DOJ Reaches Agreement For Oversight Of Albuquerque PD

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 12:29

The deal follows a Justice Department report released in April that showed the city's police used excessive force in dealing with many suspects.

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Who Are The Kids Of The Migrant Crisis?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 12:21

Many kids and teenagers leave Central America to avoid climbing levels of gang violence, extortion and drug trafficking. Sometimes, it's to find their families.

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5 Things I Learned About TV's Future From The Critics Press Tour

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 12:19

From being mistaken for Randy Jackson to confronting network executives about diversity issues, TV critic Eric Deggans runs down highlights of the two-week blizzard of parties and press conferences.

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