National News

Iran Calls GOP Letter 'Propaganda Ploy,' Offers To 'Enlighten' Authors

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 05:50

Iran's foreign minister says the letter suggests U.S. lawmakers "not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution."

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U.S. Ambassador Leaves Hospital After Attack In South Korea

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 03:44

"I'm walking, talking, holding my baby, hugging my wife, so I just feel really good," U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert says as he is released from doctors' care.

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3 French Star Athletes Die In Helicopter Crash In Argentina

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 03:13

Swimmer Camille Muffat, 25, boxer Alexis Vastine, 28, and sailor Florence Arthaud, 57, had widely different backgrounds and personalities. They had been filming a reality TV show.

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PODCAST: Party for parity

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-10 03:00

Is it time to party for parity between the European single currency and the U.S. dollar? Plus, tomorrow could be a big day for Goldman Sachs.The bank was among 31 U.S.-based holding companies undergoing the annual Federal Reserve stress test, and Goldman could have done better. Analysts and investors are watching to see if this means Goldman Sachs is forced to shift away from one its favorite financial strategies. And there's word this morning that small business optimism is up because of or despite tight labor market conditions. A survey of more than 700 small busienss found 29 percent were having trouble finding talent to fill open positions. A separate survey says signing bonuses for college grads are up. We check in with some companies that are trying to recruit new employees in what is hands-down the hottest field right now: high-tech.

2015 the best job market in years for tech grads

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-10 02:00

Companies that deal in software, mobile apps, social media, and network infrastructure really never had an employment crash, even at the height of the financial crisis. Hiring slacked off, but it was still hard to recruit and retain the best-qualified engineers and computer-science graduates, especially in technology hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle, and New York.

Now, the job market for tech workers is heating up even more. Recruitment at colleges will be up more than 50 percent this year, according to a survey by Michigan State University; the average increase in recruitment across all employment sectors is 16 percent. Engineering graduates will earn by far the most money on average in their first jobs: $63,000, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE); petroleum engineers will be the highest-paid engineers, at $80,600. And according to the recruitment website Jobvite, the position that is hardest to fill right now is software engineer in the New York and Detroit markets, at 364 days.

At several high-tech startups we visited in Portland, Oregon, perks on offer to employees included the typical creature comforts at these firms: ping pong tables and old-school video games; free food and gourmet DIY coffee; board games and a cozy cubbie for napping.

But companies are also competing more fiercely for new talent on salary, benefits and career opportunities now than at any time since the Great Recession, says Curt LaCount of Jacobs Engineering, a 70,000-employee company that builds massive infrastructure, including oil and gas facilities, all over the world. LaCount was at a standing-room-only recruitment fair recently at the University of Portland.

“This is probably the best market for new grads in five or six years,” says LaCount. “I wouldn’t say it’s a frenzy. But companies are getting a lot more aggressive.” He says the pickup in recruitment and hiring has two causes: companies held back on hiring during and after the recession, and many older engineers are now retiring.

Dallas-based Match.com is also competing hard for new employees now, says human resources manager Lisa Nelson. She says that while having online-dating experience with one of the company’s products (the parent company also operates OkCupid and Tinder) isn’t a requirement of employment, “we have many employees that found their significant other or spouse using a Match product and they will tell their story to anyone who will listen.”

Nelson says the company is now vying for software and mobile engineering talent not only with other dot-coms, but also with companies in retail, real estate, and finance, too.

Dan Finnigan runs the recruitment site Jobvite. He says bargaining power is shifting to the potential employee in many fields. He says the companies that will be most successful at recruiting “are the ones who have redesigned their career website to be quite appealing, you can apply on your mobile device. They are targeting high-demand people the way marketers do to sell their products.”

Apple's ResearchKit links iPhones to medical research

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-10 02:00

While technophiles across the world are still abuzz over yesterday’s unveiling of the new Apple smartwatch, the company broke some other news that might more be even more important.

Apple calls it “ResearchKit”, an open-source platform that will allow medical researchers to turn smartphones into medical diagnostic devices.

Many people are already used to the idea of wearable devices to do things like track exercise, or sleep. Jeff Williams is a senior vice president of operations at Apple. He told an audience yesterday that the key benefit of the ResearchKit platform is the potential to help doctors substantially increase the sample size for clinical studies.

"They often have to pay people to participate, which by the way doesn't give you the best cross section of the population. But, the bigger issue is small sample sizes, sometimes 50-100 people," says Williams.

Using smartphones could allow researchers to gather data on people where they live, even all the way into their pockets, which sounds kind of creepy when it comes from NSA, but in the context of a voluntary option for medical research it, could significantly help our understanding of disease.

“It’s been really hard to untangle complex diseases like cancer or Parkinson’s disease or cancer, when you only see someone three times a year for 15 minutes,” says John Wilbanks, of Sage Bionetworks.

Sage is collaborating with Apple and researchers at the University of Rochester on the development of an app to study Parkinson’s called “mPower.” Wilbanks says that the sensors and gyroscopes in a standard iPhone could collect data, for instance, on how a person with Parkinson’s walks.

“So we could either have a doctor do a visual inspection of that once a year,” says Wilbanks, “or every couple of days you could get a notification from the phone that says something like, ‘holding the phone in your right hand, take 20 steps forward and 20 steps back’."

The entire ResearchKit platform will be available for all developers in April. 

Apple says all data shared on the ResearchKit platform will be de-identified for privacy and the data itself live on the individual phone and will not be seen by Apple.

Goldman Sachs could lose a financial weapon

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-10 02:00

Goldman Sachs was among 31 U.S.-based holding companies undergoing the annual Federal Reserve stress test. Analysts say that as a result of Goldman's relatively poor performance, on Wednesday regulators might limit one of Goldman Sach’s big financial strategies: buying its own shares.

Buybacks pump up earnings per share by reducing the number of shares. “When you take a look at Goldman as compared to a lot of financial institutions, Goldman has relied on buybacks,” says Allen Michel, finance professor at Boston University.

Last year, Goldman Sachs spent $5.5 billion buying its own stock. Shareholders love it because they’re getting cash. But regulators want to see more capital assets, says Stephen Hoopes an analyst with IBISWorld.

“So the Fed’s mostly just looking at if a recession were to happen, if a big change in the market were to occur, how would these big banks handle that,” Hoopes says.

If the Federal Reserve says Goldman can’t use its capital to buy its own stock, it’s estimated the bank could earn almost $2 less per share next year. That, Michel says, even for a powerhouse like Goldman, would be a big deal.

 

2015 the best job market in years for tech grads

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-10 02:00

Companies that deal in software, mobile apps, social media, and network infrastructure really never had an employment crash, even at the height of the financial crisis. Hiring slacked off, but it was still hard to recruit and retain the best-qualified engineers and computer-science graduates, especially in technology hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle, and New York.

Now, the job market for tech workers is heating up even more. Recruitment at colleges will be up more than 50 percent this year, according to a survey by Michigan State University; the average increase in recruitment across all employment sectors is 16 percent. Engineering graduates will earn by far the most money on average in their first jobs: $63,000, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE); petroleum engineers will be the highest-paid engineers, at $80,600. And according to the recruitment website Jobvite, the position that is hardest to fill right now is software engineer in the New York and Detroit markets, at 364 days.

At several high-tech startups we visited in Portland, Oregon, perks on offer to employees included the typical creature comforts at these firms: ping pong tables and old-school video games; free food and gourmet DIY coffee; board games and a cozy cubbie for napping.

But companies are also competing more fiercely for new talent on salary, benefits and career opportunities now than at any time since the Great Recession, says Curt LaCount of Jacobs Engineering, a 70,000-employee company that builds massive infrastructure, including oil and gas facilities, all over the world. LaCount was at a standing-room-only recruitment fair recently at the University of Portland.

“This is probably the best market for new grads in five or six years,” says LaCount. “I wouldn’t say it’s a frenzy. But companies are getting a lot more aggressive.” He says the pickup in recruitment and hiring has two causes: companies held back on hiring during and after the recession, and many older engineers are now retiring.

Dallas-based Match.com is also competing hard for new employees now, says human resources manager Lisa Nelson. She says that while having online-dating experience with one of the company’s products (the parent company also operates OkCupid and Tinder) isn’t a requirement of employment, “we have many employees that found their significant other or spouse using a Match product and they will tell their story to anyone who will listen.”

Nelson says the company is now vying for software and mobile engineering talent not only with other dot-coms, but also with companies in retail, real estate, and finance, too.

Dan Finnigan runs the recruitment site JobVite. He says bargaining power is shifting to the potential employee in many fields. He says the companies that will be most successful at recruiting “are the ones who have redesigned their career website to be quite appealing, you can apply on your mobile device. They are targeting high-demand people the way marketers do to sell their products.”

In Atlanta, not all neighborhoods come back

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-10 02:00

On the first Tuesday of every month, banks auction off foreclosed properties on the steps of the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta. Last month, there were a few dozen bidders, a far smaller number, according to those present, than at the height of the housing crash.

To some bidders, the presence of fewer people suggests there are fewer foreclosures. To them, this is evidence that the housing market in the Atlanta Metro region is on the mend.

Dan Immergluck, a professor of city and regional planning at Georgia Tech, has been following Greater Atlanta's housing market for a decade. In 2012, he started to hear that the  region was recovering. He wondered, after seeing neighborhoods where large swathes of property were still vacant, whether recovery was the whole story.

Immergluck broke Atlanta up into zip codes, and using home price estimates from the real estate website Zillow, he examined how house prices in each zip code were recovering. What he found was that the way in which a neighborhood was rebounding — fully and quickly, or partially and more slowly — depended in part on its racial demographics.

Homes in majority-white zip codes, Immergluck found, tended to have regained their full value. Homes in majority African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods were likely to have regained only about half of their pre-recession value. 

Oh, the panels you'll see!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-10 02:00

Oh, SXSW Interactive—That springtime gathering of over 30,000 members of the tech community in Austin, Texas to eat tacos and present new technologies.

In an environment that encourages cheekiness and experimentation, you'll find the seeds of good ideas: Facebook launched Facebook Connect, an early version of its mobile app, at SXSW in 2009. You'll also find spectacles that make you squirm, like the "Homeless Hotspots" program during the festival in 2012.

This is the technology industry's hype machine in overdrive. It's a five day flurry of buzzwords and gamification. 

And this year's conference does not disappoint on that front. Attendees can look forward to Katie Notopoulos' panel "Hamburger Helper Is My Bae: Weird Brand Twitter". Or maybe "2 Girls Are Crying and I'm Not: Improv in Any Career" is more your speed. True to form, SXSW Interactive has its share of great content with even better names.

Remember last year, when attendees sat through panels like "Interactive Avatars & All of the Doxxing"? Do you remember live-streaming "Live Pixels & The Tipping Point of Bikesharing"? Well, you shouldn't. Because these panels never happened.

Back by popular demand, the Marketplace SXSW panel generator is here to help you make your own very own fake panel which you can use to hack your way to an optimized experience. Let us help you create the Tinder of panels; the Uber of keynote speeches; the Yik Yak of Winklevoss twins. Then click the little blue bird to tweet us your favorites.

And while you're there, feel free to tweet us any questions you have for the Marketplace Tech team while we're down south in Austin. Use #SXMP, and we'll do our best to get you some answers.

Identifying the next Silicon Valley

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-10 01:30
$48,840

That's the maximum worker's compensation for a lost arm in Alabama, less than a third of the national average. Most states assign these types of values to lost limbs, eyes, fingers, even testicles, and a ProPublica/NPR investigation found the benefits vary wildly across the country. The story follows two workers who live not far across the Alabama/Georgia line from each other and lost their arms in similar accidents. One man got $45,000 and says he lost nearly everything, while the other could receive more than $700,000 in his lifetime and has managed to stay afloat.

20,000

That's how many people have signed a petition against the French extramarital-affair-dating-site Gleeden, as reported by the NY Times. Recently, a bus company in Versailles removed Gleeden ads from its vehicles following some 500 complaints filed in a single week — the company says they generally receive 900 complaints in a year.

2 out of 73

The portion of venture-funded companies with values over $2 billion that call Provo, Utah home. The city was also a leader in tech job creation outside the Bay area from 2009 to 2013, the Upshot reported. That puts Provo well ahead of the many cities jockying to be "the next Silicon Valley."

7

The demand for wild turtle meat between 1987 to 2013 increased 7 fold, according to a story in USA Today about a recent drop in the wild turtle population in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is now recommending a suspension of turtle hunting during egg laying season.

$17,000

The new Apple Watch could cost as much as $17,000, depending on whether you want aluminum and glass, stainless steel or rose gold. But some say you're better off waiting for Apple Watch's next iteration, as the company often uses the first generation of products to create a culture of cool, and then turns out a much more sophisticated version later on.

500,000

The number of iTunes downloads from tribute band Led Zepagain from their first album release in 2005 to when Led Zepplin's music first appeared on the service in 2007. Cuepoint explored the way soundalikes and tribute bands are doing better than ever thanks to digital streaming and the complexities of music licensing.

Why you might want to wait for Apple Watch 2

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-03-10 01:30

We finally know more about Apple Watch than we did in September, when Apple first unveiled its line of smartwatches. But details are still somewhat scarce.

As Lindsey Turrentine, Editor-in-Chief at CNET.com, points out, the event hosted by Apple Inc. on Monday revealed, “Maybe a little more detail about how it works over wifi but not a lot more about what this watch can do that your phone cannot." 

The watches will range from $350 to $17, 000, depending on whether you want aluminum and glass, stainless steel or rose gold.

Apple can get away without giving additional details on features, Turrentine says, because this is still a first generation product.

“Apple is really good at making second generation products,” she says. “And the first generation products are all about convincing you that it’s cool.”

The real goal, she adds, is to “test the waters.” That is, to get it out to people and see how each feature fares. Sell it to “the influencers,” as Turrentine calls them, who will make it seem cool.

“And when they come around with the second generation that does a lot more, people will be in a position to know what it is, and feel like maybe they are ready to fork out some money,” says Turrentine. At least, that’s her theory.

But she is confident that people will buy it.

“People will buy it because they are curious and that’s a totally legitimate reason to buy something,” she says. 

 

Ethiopia's Blue Party Tries To Reacquaint Nation With Dissent

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 01:07

The movement's slow, strategic approach is a necessity in a country where one party controls almost every seat in parliament, journalists are routinely jailed and rallies are broken up by police.

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Ethiopia's Blue Party Tries To Reacquaint Nation With Dissent

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 01:07

The movement's slow, strategic approach is a necessity in a country where one party controls 99.8 percent of seats in parliament, journalists are routinely jailed and rallies are broken up by police.

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With Medicare Pay On The Line, Hospitals Push Harder To Please Patients

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 00:20

The federal government now factors patient satisfaction ratings into the rates Medicare pays hospitals. Some hospitals with lower ratings are finding it's difficult to change patients' perceptions.

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Explorers Discover Ancient Lost City In Honduran Jungle

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 00:19

Chris Fisher, an archaeologist who recently returned from the site of a lost city, says that some of the objects there looked as if they hadn't been touched in centuries.

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Circadian Surprise: How Our Body Clocks Help Shape Our Waistlines

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 00:18

We have different clocks in virtually every organ of our bodies. But living against the clock — eating late at night or working overnight — may set the stage for weight gain and chronic disease.

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Portugal Beckons Tourists With Sun, History And ... Slums

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 00:17

Forget the cathedrals and wine houses that have made Porto, Portugal, famous. A new guided tour takes visitors to back alleys and boarded-up businesses — the effects of Europe's economic crisis.

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Saudi Girls Can Now Take PE Classes, But Not Everyone's Happy

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 00:16

Saudi Arabia has agreed to introduce physical education for girls in its gender-segregated public schools. But there's opposition from hardliners.

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Low Oil Prices Could Stall Explosive Growth In Montana Boom Town

NPR News - Tue, 2015-03-10 00:16

Oil production appears to be churning right along in Sidney, Mont. But leaders are bracing for a whole lot less oil tax revenue to deal with all the boom's impacts.

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