National News

WATCH: Live, Local Coverage Of Australian Hostage Siege

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:42

A gunman is holding an unknown number of hostages at a downtown chocolate cafe. Police have put a swath of Australia's largest city under lockdown.

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Live Blog: 5 Escape From Sydney Cafe After Being Held Hostage

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:34

An unknown number of people remain inside the cafe. Police cordoned off a huge swath of Australia's largest city.

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Closing the gender gap

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:00

Possible 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton is in New York on Monday to talk about the knowns and unknowns when it comes to women's issues. A group called Data2X run by the United Nations Foundation is trying to tackle what it calls a gender data gap. We take a look at what that gap is and why it matters.

Click the media player above to hear more.

The 'one percent' lead holiday retail

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:00

The richest Americans will lead the way in holiday spending again this year.

At the beginning of the Great Recession, luxury retail fell hard – some brands and product-categories saw declines of 30 to 40 percent, says retail analyst David Schick at Stifel Nicolaus. That compared to declines under 5 percent for mass-market retail.

But after the recession, luxury retail rebounded sooner and stronger than the rest of the market. And that strength has continued through 2014. Management consultancy Bain & Company predicts the global luxury market will have grown by 5 percent in 2014; the increase will be 6 percent in the U.S. – significantly higher than mainstream U.S. retail.

“At the higher end of the income spectrum, we have seen financial assets helping the consumer in a way that isn’t helping other quintiles of income,” says Schick. “And wage growth is the same story.” That increased wealth at the top will likely help luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co.

Schick is quick to point out, though, that middle-income Americans are also doing better this year, with paychecks trending higher, unemployment down, and gas prices falling hard.

These consumers might now feel more comfortable splurging on a high-end brand—a Kate Spade handbag or Coach wallet.

“It’s not just the 1 percent that are carrying along high-end retailers,” says Kit Yarrow, professor emeritus of psychology at Golden Gate University and author of ‘Decoding the New Consumer Mind.’ “Obviously, the high-end retailers aren’t going to be doing well without them. But it’s also the huge influx of money coming from Chinese consumers that are visiting the U.S., and other nationalities. And also middle-class and upper-middle-class consumers who are stretching, because they perceive the value of those products to be worth it.”

Yarrow conducts "shop-alongs" with American consumers, including those in the six-figure income bracket. Stocks, home prices, and income have all combined to make these households even wealthier than they were before the recession.

But while they can afford to spend on luxury goods, she finds they don’t want to flaunt their money.

“They understand that there’s sort of an anti-wealth sentiment,” says Yarrow. “They don’t want to be conspicuous in their consumption. They don’t want other people to distrust them or feel separated from them. One woman I interviewed was embarrassed to say in front of other people that she’d paid full-price for a product, because she thought they might find that to be offensive.”

More retailers promise last-minute Christmas delivery

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:00

Today is expected to be the busiest shipping day in the country. But, that does not mean the next week and a half until Christmas will become slow. Companies will be shipping out packages all the way down to the wire.

Last year, the media reported a big backlash over late packages. There were storms, deliveries got backed up, and some presents spent Christmas sitting in cold, lonely warehouses.

Steve Osburn is a supply chain adviser with the management consulting firm Kurt Salmon. He says, “Coming out of last year, we estimated that people would be a little more cautious this year.” But, he says, that's not happening.

This year, Osburn says even more big retailers are promising last-minute delivery. He says companies are thinking “if my competitor is going to be able to do it, I need to be able to do it.”

To handle the surge of holiday packages, shippers like Fed Ex and UPS have hired tens of thousands of additional workers. 

Lisa Willis runs Missive, a custom letterpress company in San Francisco. She says customers have come to expect instantaneous delivery, and she wishes that weren't the case. Willis says, “As a small business we're up against all these really large companies that guarantee delivery dates.”

To try and compete, Willis gives her customers a price break if they order early.

The 1-Percent lead holiday retail

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:00

The richest Americans will lead the way in holiday spending again this year.

At the beginning of the Great Recession, luxury retail fell hard—some brands and product-categories saw declines of 30 to 40 percent, says retail analyst David Schick at Stifel Nicolaus. That compared to declines under 5 percent for mass-market retail.

But after the recession, luxury retail rebounded sooner and stronger than the rest of the market. And that strength has continued through 2014. Management consultancy Bain & Company predicts the global luxury market will have grown by 5 percent in 2014; the increase will be 6 percent in the U.S.—significantly higher than mainstream U.S. retail.

“At the higher end of the income spectrum, we have seen financial assets helping the consumer in a way that isn’t helping other quintiles of income,” says Schick. “And wage growth is the same story.” That increased wealth at the top will likely help luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co.

Schick is quick to point out, though, that middle-income Americans are also doing better this year, with paychecks trending higher, unemployment down, and gas prices falling hard.

These consumers might now feel more comfortable splurging on a high-end brand—a Kate Spade handbag or Coach wallet.

“It’s not just the 1 percent that are carrying along high-end retailers,” says Kit Yarrow, professor emeritus of psychology at Golden Gate University and author of ‘Decoding the New Consumer Mind.’ “Obviously, the high-end retailers aren’t going to be doing well without them. But it’s also the huge influx of money coming from Chinese consumers that are visiting the U.S., and other nationalities. And also middle-class and upper-middle-class consumers who are stretching, because they perceive the value of those products to be worth it.”

Yarrow conducts ‘shop-alongs’ with American consumers, including those in the six-figure income bracket. Stocks, home prices, and income have all combined to make these households even wealthier than they were before the recession.

But while they can afford to spend on luxury goods, she finds they don’t want to flaunt their money.

“They understand that there’s sort of an anti-wealth sentiment,” says Yarrow. “They don’t want to be conspicuous in their consumption. They don’t want other people to distrust them or feel separated from them. One woman I interviewed was embarrassed to say in front of other people that she’d paid full-price for a product, because she thought they might find that to be offensive.”

A smart bet on PetSmart

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 01:30
$8.7 billion

The weekend saw the "biggest private equity deal of 2014": PetSmart sold itself for $8.7 billion to BC Partners, an investment firm based in London. 

6 percent

Management consultancy Bain & Company predicts the luxury market in the U.S. will have grown 6 percent in 2014. That's higher than the 5 percent growth in the global luxury market for 2014, and much higher than growth in mainstream U.S. retail.

18,210

The number of followers conservative blogger Charles C. Johnson had as of early Monday morning. Johnson has gained a lot of notoriety recently by proclaiming President Barack Obama is dead, publishing the addresses of two journalists and doxing the woman at the center of the rape scandal at UVA. David Carr spoke to Johnson for his column this week.

40

That's how many menu items McDonald's has added in the past seven years. In response to lagging sales, the brand will cut down its menu  starting with eight items. But which will bo first? Quartz has some suggestions.

Sen. Warren Warns That Spending Bill Sets Dangerous Precedent

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 00:19

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, took a passionate stand against a provision in the spending bill that rolls back a major part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation legislation.

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'Warning Shot': Sen. Warren On Fighting Banks, And Her Political Future

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 00:19

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, took a passionate stand against a provision in the spending bill that rolls back a major part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation legislation.

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Trek Around The World Marked By Obstacles Both Natural And Man-Made

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 23:31

Journalist Paul Salopek's seven year trek has recently brought him face-to-face with the possibility of losing his toes to frostbite — and with one of the largest mass migrations in modern history.

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Around-The-World Trek Hits Obstacles Both Natural And Man-Made

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 23:31

Journalist Paul Salopek's long walk recently brought him face to face with the possibility of losing his toes to frostbite — and with one of the largest mass migrations in modern history.

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Lockheed Martin Case Puts 401(k) Plans On Trial

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 23:30

The aerospace company is being sued for choosing retirement funds that were poorly managed and charged high fees in a case that tests the limits of a company's responsibilities to its employees.

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When Grandma's House Is Home: The Rise Of Grandfamilies

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 23:26

In a shift driven partly by culture and largely by the economy, the number of grandparents living with their grandchildren is up sharply. About 1 in 10 kids is living with a grandparent.

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Congress To Nutritionists: Don't Talk About The Environment

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 23:25

Should dietary guidelines consider the environmental effects of our food choices? The government-appointed Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee thinks they should. Congress, however, says no.

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To Stop Teen Drinking Parties, Fine The Parents

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 23:24

For some teenagers, parties with alcohol are almost a rite of passage. Surveys show the vast majority of parents in these homes know the alcohol is flowing. Cities are now cracking down on the adults.

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PetSmart To Be Sold To Investor Group

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 23:19

The Phoenix-based pet store retailer says investors, led by buyout firm BC Partners, have agreed to pay $83 per share in cash to the company for a total of $8.7 billion.

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Reports: Hostages Held In Cafe In Sydney, Australia

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 17:32

Multiple hostages are apparently being held at a Lindt cafe in Sydney, Australia. Several nearby buildings have been evacuated.

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More Than Just Cute, Sea Otters Are Superheroes Of The Marsh

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 13:39

Sea otters are furry and photogenic, but those aren't the only reasons to save them from extinction. Turns out that just by eating, they can preserve their entire estuarine ecosystems.

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LA's Unclaimed Dead Receive Prayers, And A Final Resting Place

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 13:29

Every year since 1896, Los Angeles County has buried the cremated remains of people who die in the region, but whose bodies are never claimed. This year, the county buried the remains of 1,489 people.

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He Just Flew In From South Africa To Join 'The Daily Show'

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-14 13:03

And boy, are his arms tired. Because he's been holding them up so the U.S. police don't attack him. That joke launched Trevor Noah's "Daily Show" gig. He got raves — but a few barbs from fans at home.

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