National News

Navy Investigating Alleged Cheating By Nuclear Trainees

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 11:14

The cheating did not involve trainees working with nuclear weapons, so the scandal is not comparable to the one rocking the Air Force.

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Microsoft's great debate

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:47

With 22 years under his belt, Satya Nadella is the consummate Microsoft insider. But don’t think that experience made him a shoo-in for the top job.  

One reason Microsoft went nearly six months without a CEO was because executives spent time looking for their new one outside the company. Microsoft is a case study of what so many aging technology companies -- from Intel to Hewlett Packard -- are going through.

The old line businesses still bring in a ton of cash but they’re slow to innovate, said Michael Cusumano, a professor at MIT.  Often times, he says, companies like Microsoft consider bringing in an outsider to provide that spark.

"I think they juggled all these balls in the air and concluded that it would be too difficult for an outsider to come," said Cusumano. "You really need someone that understands the culture and people to really get the  most out of the organization."

Cusumano said that Microsoft seems to have found somebody who can keep the company pumping money, and hopefully, turn it in the right direction.

Bob Sutton, the author of "Scaling Up Excellence", thinks picking an insider was the right decision.

"Although there’s the mystery and the allure of having the outsider ride in on the white horse," said Sutton. "There’s actually a large body of academic research that shows when outsiders come in, they do worse."

Sutton pointed to a study that showed former GE C.E.O.’s who went on to head-up other companies did consistently worse than insiders. And that trend holds across industries.

Sutton said the problem is that outsiders often think there’s a silver bullet. That is, if they lay-off departments and issue mandates, a turnaround is sure to happen. But he said, that approach ignores the human factor.  

"Every organization has its own quirks and history and culture," Sutton said. "And it turns out it takes a very long time to learn where, if you will, the bodies are buried and where the good things are."

But insiders can be tainted by company culture, said Harlan Platt, who teaches turnarounds at Northeastern University.

"I got into the business of turnarounds by asking this silly question, ‘How do you find a good manager at a bad company?’" Platt said.

Platt said Microsoft’s poor culture of innovation suggests that a company man might not be the best bet.

What exactly is a market correction?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:47

All told, 2014 hasn’t been the rosiest year on Wall Street so far. The markets are up a bit today after a dismal yesterday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average is about 1,000 points lower than it was at the beginning of the year, and the S&P 500 is off about 75 points.

So: We’ve been hearing a lot lately about how a market correction is coming. Should we be bracing for the fall?

Historically speaking, yes.

Technically, a correction is a change of 10 percent or more, so the Dow would need to lose around 650 more points and the S&P 500 would need to drop by another 100.

"The S&p 500 has averaged a correction, that is a drop of 10 percent of more, every 18 months and currently we haven’t had one since 2011, so we’re about 28 months overdue," says Alec Young, Global Equity Strategist at S&P Capital IQ.

Plus, many key economic indicators like manufacturing and unemployment indicate stocks should be a little lower says Bill Stone, Chief Investment Strategist at PNC Wealth Management. "We will get a 10 percent pullback sometime. Whether this is it or not is hard to say, but you ought to a be ready for it."

Still, we’re probably not talking about a crash, because companies’ profits are pretty much in line with current stock values.

"The best measures of long run stock market fundamentals, the price to earnings ratio, is not in bubble territory," says economist Heidi Shierholz, with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington DC.

But those profits don’t necessarily mean a strong economy. In fact, says Shierholz, a lot of Wall Street’s success has come at the expense of main street’s economy.

"The very weak labor market actually strongly reduces wage growth, and is one of the reasons corporate profits are doing so well right now."

As for investors, PNC’s Stone says they should try to sit tight.

"That is, unfortunately, I guess the price of owning what has long term been the best performing asset class... you probably need Maalox along the way."

Not the extra-strength Maalox we needed in 2008, though. Most economists expect the market will end 2014 a little higher than where it started.

Seahawks Say They Figured Out Manning's Signals

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:44

Like all teams do, Seattle studied its opponent. Then during the game, says cornerback Richard Sherman, the Seahawks figured out the hand signals that the Denver quarterback was using. Other teams do that too. Seattle certainly took advantage of things, though, and dominated during the 43-8 win.

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Curiosity Update: NASA Mulls Sending The Rover Over A Sand Dune

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:39

Other rovers have gotten stuck in similar terrains, so this is a delicate operation for the Mini-Cooper-sized vehicle.

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Why the FCC pays for landlines but not broadband Internet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:28

In a speech today, President Barack Obama talked up plans to give all schools fast internet connections. And he came prepared with a sound bite:

 "In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools," he said. 

Many of the high-stakes tests students will take in coming years are administered online. According research by the non-profit Education Superhighway, about a third of schools have enough broadband to give the most advanced tests. The group's director, Evan Marwell, says another third could give more basic online exams. 

"And then we still have a third of our schools that don't have enough bandwitdth to administer a test on a computer," says Marwell.  "That's a problem."

Tomorrow the Federal Communications Commission plans to announce what the President calls "a $2 billion down payment" toward fixing that problem. 

The FCC currently distributes more than that to schools for telecom -- a $2.4 billion fund called E-Rate, paid for out of fees collected by telecom companies. But so far, only half of E-Rate's money goes toward broadband connections. Some pays for cellphones, and a quarter of it pays for phone service: -- translation: landlines. 

"That made sense back at the beginning of the program [in 1996]," says Marwell. "How did most schools get on the Internet in 1996? Dial up. But today, how many schools get on the internet with dial up?"

When E-Rate funds do pay for broadband, it turns out that we don’t really know exactly how much bandwidth schools get for the money.

"That would be really useful information," says Danielle Kehl, a policy analyst with the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute.

Kehl says the FCC doesn't get information from broadband providers about the rates schools pay and the bandwidth they get. For a simple reason: "They don’t actually ask the telecom providers for that precise information," she says.

She hopes the agency will change that don’t ask, don’t tell practice.  

How Obamacare will shrink the workforce

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 10:27

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its 2014-2024 budget and economic outlook this morning. It is a forecast of what the economy will look like over the next decade. The headline? The economy is growing and the deficit is shrinking – for now, at least. 

The non-partisan CBO also looked at what effects the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – will have on the deficit and the labor market. The headline here? The equivalent of 2 million or so fewer full-time workers. 

According to the analysis, some Americans will choose to scale back how much they work. Thanks to Obamacare, they will decide to go part-time. One reason: As your income goes down, the help you can get from the government goes up.

Katherine Baicker, a professor of health economics at Harvard University, puts it another way: "If your subsidy for purchasing health insurance goes down as your income rises, that provides some disincentive to have higher income."

So, it could be advantageous for an individual to work a job that pays less than four times the federal poverty level, which works out to about $46,000 a year.

"That’s not a wealthy person, but it covers a bigger share of the distribution of people than you might think, if you were just thinking about poor people," Baicker says.

We’re talking about tens of millions of Americans.

Some will work less, knowing they can get health insurance through government-run exchanges. Others will stop working altogether. Two million fewer full-time workers by 2017 sounds bad. Is it?

"Yeah, I mean, I hate to be an economist for you, but this is sort of an 'on the one hand, on the other hand' kind of answer," says Craig Garthwaite, an assistant professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and co-author of a paper called “Public Health Insurance, Labor Supply, and Employment Lock.”

One the one hand, “we want people to participate in the labor force,” he says. On the other hand, he says, Americans will be able to pick jobs that are good fits without having to worry about losing their health insurance.

And some older Americans will be able to retire sooner – namely, people in their sixties who would have had a hard time finding affordable coverage on their own, says Jonathan Gruber, an economist at MIT who helped write the Affordable Care Act.

"These are people who were sort of chained to their desks by the failures in the individual insurance market," Gruber says.

The CBO says its predictions are subject to "substantial uncertainty." That comes with the territory given all the uncertainty about how implantation of the Affordable Care Act will play out.

Marketplace's most-viral stories of January 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 09:30

Thoughts, disclaimers, bad jokes, etc.: This is our look back at Marketplace’s top stories on Marketplace.org, Facebook, Twitter, reddit and Stitcher in January 2014. Unlike our look back at 2013, there was significantly more overlap between platforms on what became popular. Jeans and hoodie-wearing college students who bought whiskey at Target are our target audience, apparently.

Most viewed on Marketplace.org: These were our most visited stories in January 2014, even if the article was posted before the month. 'How to get rid of your student loans without paying' was written in the summer of 2013, and still remains a popular article. And a popular story about Silicon Valley's dress code didn't include any women, which prompted a large number of comments. Marketplace's Queena Kim wrote a follow-up with an explainer about why she reported the story the way she did.

  1. "We're sorry you got hacked": Target's letter to unlucky shoppers
  2. How to get rid of your student loans without paying
  3. Silicon Valley has a dress code? You better believe it

APM Marketplace on Facebook: Facebook posts are sorted by “total reach,” essentially the number of people who saw that post, because they like Marketplace on Facebook or saw the post through their friends. This list includes Facebook posts from January 2014.

1. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by APM: Marketplace.
2. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by APM: Marketplace.
3. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by APM: Marketplace.

@MarketplaceAPM on Twitter: Figuring out how to measure Twitter is problematic, since it depends on what your goals are. Do you rank by the most clicks to the actual story? Story most tweeted about? Most re-tweets? All of those things are good, so here’s the top story in each of those categories:

  1. Most clicked:How Bitcoin is like Kim Kardashian: http://t.co/Qy8h6l3Ia1 pic.twitter.com/uZsgEj0za0

    — Marketplace (@MarketplaceAPM) January 29, 2014
  2. Most tweeted about:

    Know who owns the whisk(e)y in your glass? http://t.co/vCETqIV7w0 pic.twitter.com/SasGQYOpwX Also whiskey before Noon? Pull it together.

    — Marketplace (@MarketplaceAPM) January 16, 2014
  3. Most re-tweeted:

    "Women make up half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes," #SOTU

    — Marketplace (@MarketplaceAPM) January 29, 2014
  4. Most traffic from Twitter: Silicon Valley has a dress code? You better believe it

Marketplace on Stitcher: Stitcher is one of our most popular audio platforms that allows people to share and listen to individual audio segments.

  1. American presidents and the rhetoric of poverty
  2. AT&T declares war on T-Mobile
  3. How American Idol changed television

reddit: Articles on reddit are sorted by which stories received the most upvotes, basically reddit's equivalent to Facebook's likes. The second story refers to an article that cities are bringing in less money from fuel taxes, and could start taxing hybrid drivers and bicyclists.

  1. Graphic showing which company owns each whiskey brand
  2. Are you kidding me? Like the commenter says, this is a policy only an oil company executive could love.
  3. TIL that the YKK on a zipper is an abbreviation for a Japanese zipper company called Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha, which has about half the world's zipper business.

How I Learned To Feel Undesirable

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 09:17

When Noah Cho was young, he thought that couples would be like his parents — that Asian men would be paired with white women. But he writes that when he looks in the mirror and reflects on his own experiences, he feels "unattractive and undesirable."

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The Novelist: A Story-Driven Game Of Impossible Choices

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 09:10

The fictional Dan Kaplan is struggling to finish a high-stakes book while balancing the needs of his wife and son. You pull the strings in this family drama by scouring the Kaplans' thoughts and memories. The emotion-driven story is compelling, but is a game about real-life problems actually fun?

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Marketplace Rules Could Hurt Assistance Programs For Costly Drugs

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 09:07

Drugmakers have been criticized for cost-sharing assistance programs that encourage patients to use brand-name drugs instead of cheaper, generic alternatives. The federal government has frowned on the help, but there are expensive medicines for cancer and rheumatoid arthritis that don't have generic equivalents.

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U.S. Borrowing Is Less Of An Economic Worry, At Least For Now

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 09:05

The Congressional Budget Office says the federal budget deficit in fiscal 2014 will shrink to $514 billion — far less than it was at the height of the Great Recession. While the short-term outlook is a bit brighter, the CBO says there's still plenty to worry about in the long term.

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Accuser's Video Leads To Sexual Assault Charges For Teacher

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 08:40

After a young California woman posted video of the phone call she made to a former teacher who she says sexually abused her, the clip went viral. Then another alleged victim stepped forward. Now the woman who has been accused faces 16 charges and possibly life in prison if convicted.

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Chinese Red Guards Apologize, Reopening A Dark Chapter

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 08:04

During China's Cultural Revolution, communist youth known as Red Guards persecuted, tortured and killed millions of Chinese — so-called enemies of the Communist Party. Now some Red Guards are apologizing publicly in rare examples of open discussion of the party's historic mistakes.

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PODCAST: Microsoft has a new CEO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 08:01

The Microsoft Board of Directors made it official: A Microsoft insider will now run the company. As has been telegraphed in recent days, the new CEO is 46 year old Satya Nadella, who's been running Microsoft's so-called Cloud Services. In a statement, Nadella said "The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform."

And, one key headline to watch today is one fromm the Commerce Department: December factory orders. It's coming after yesterday's very weak report drawn from a January survey of people who do ordering at factories. That one showed the biggest drop in factory orders in 33 years. The number of manufacturing jobs in America has been inching up, but there are two million fewer of those jobs since the start of the recession. Where have they gone?

And, as Satya Nadella takes over the reins of Microsoft, we can't forget the previous CEO Steve Ballmer, who dropped out of Stanford Business School to help his friend and co-founder Bill Gates build the software company. Microsoft was about five years old and together they turned Microsoft into a the Windows juggernaut that it once was. Marketplace's Queena Kim brings us this Ballmer retrospective.

PODCAST: Microsoft has a new CEO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 08:01

The Microsoft Board of Directors made it official: A Microsoft insider will now run the company. As has been telegraphed in recent days, the new CEO is 46 year old Satya Nadella, who's been running Microsoft's so-called Cloud Services. In a statement, Nadella said "The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform."

And, one key headline to watch today is one fromm the Commerce Department: December factory orders. It's coming after yesterday's very weak report drawn from a January survey of people who do ordering at factories. That one showed the biggest drop in factory orders in 33 years. The number of manufacturing jobs in America has been inching up, but there are two million fewer of those jobs since the start of the recession. Where have they gone?

And, as Satya Nadella takes over the reins of Microsoft, we can't forget the previous CEO Steve Ballmer, who dropped out of Stanford Business School to help his friend and co-founder Bill Gates build the software company. Microsoft was about five years old and together they turned Microsoft into a the Windows juggernaut that it once was. Marketplace's Queena Kim brings us this Ballmer retrospective.

Foster care is costly, and some states send more kids to relatives

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:46

When there’s is a suspected case of child abuse or neglect, often someone will call social services. There will be an investigation, and about four hundred thousand children a year will end up in foster care. But foster care is expensive - $200-$400 dollars a day. Increasingly children are diverted from pricey foster care and sent to live with family instead. This has led to debate about what’s best for kids. 

Sheila Brockington, a 60-year-old grandmother from the Bronx,  has made her foster role official. She’s a registered foster caregiver for her granddaughter and her granddaughter’s new baby, her great-granddaughter. Brockington works as a home health attendant for $10 an hour. So while she says she could take care of the kids on her own, it would be a hardship. 

“A small can of baby milk is $17 by itself and this little grandbaby I got likes to eat. Then the baby diapers and her wipes. She's 11 pounds and she's already outgrown all her clothes,” she says. “It would be tight, because everything is going up but my paycheck. We'd have to cut back. We'd make it,  but we'd be scratching, we'd be clawing."

Brockington’s 15- year-old granddaughter, Taraia, also gets support through the foster care system. “Taraia would get a tutor, if she needs it for after school...therapist, if she needs that,”  says Brockington.  And the new baby could be provided with a crib, a car seat and clothing.

But according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation,  in some states, including Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia, more kids are getting sent to family. but outside the foster system. The Foundation says that often means there’s no financial support, or caregivers don’t know it’s available. And, while states may save money, oversight for kids can be lacking. 

Shanequa Henry, Brockington’s case supervisor at Children’s Village, a non-profit that provides support for families and kids in the Bronx, says it’s an issue that pulls her in two directions. Forty percent of the time, she says, extra oversight isn’t necessary; but sixty percent of her feels that the government should stay involved. Family members, she says, can be too lenient on moms or dads who’ve been accused of abuse or neglect, but still want to see the children they’ve lost.   

 “Sure you can take them. Sure they can spend a night, even if they're not supposed to spend a night,” she says. “You think that it's ok but what if the abuse is still going on?” 

Fred Wulczyn, a senior research fellow with the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall Center for Children, says the debate over how to care for foster childten is not just about the money; it's also about values. There’s a delicate balance between a family’s right to privacy and the interest of the community that kids are safe. Wulczyn notes that most people raise their children without government intervention. 

"Every day, parents without the involvement of the state are making arrangements to care for their children when they themselves cannot.” 

“It really is a values thing,” says Tracey Feild, Director of the Child Welfare Strategy Group at the Annie E Casey Foundation. “Workers, when you talk to them, they say, 'why should we be involved in their lives? We’re just intrusive and families should be able to make their own decisions.' It’s not seen as just ‘we’re going to save money by doing this.’ It seen as a really good thing by workers – it’s best if we stay out of their lives.” 

Almost all the experts agree that children do best when they’re with their own families.   Which means, as Feild explains, diversion to family care isn’t the problem; it’s only problematic “if it’s done wrong,” and there's a  lack of oversight for children.  But too often, she says, that’s the case. 

“The child is left with grandma and no one know what happens next.”

U.S. Ambassador To Russia Will Resign After Olympics

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:44

Michael McFaul led the Obama administration's so-called "reset" of diplomatic relations with the country over the past five years. He says he is leaving to reunite with his family in California.

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U.K. Admits 'Limited' Role In India's 1984 Raid On Sikh Shrine

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:32

The acknowledgment comes just weeks after it was revealed that Britain may have had a role in the raid on the Golden Temple. Foreign Secretary William Hague said the assistance was purely advisory.

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A look back at Steve Ballmer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:25

When Steve Ballmer became the CEO of Microsoft in 2000, he became the closest thing tech had to a King and he had a big personality to prove it.

He was knon for his enthusiastic appearances at developers conferences and trade shows -- all 6-foot-5 of him -- running across the stage, jumping and screaming

Back then, the PC ruled in the consumer -- and office markets -- and Microsoft owned that screen with its Windows operating system and "Word." 

Kartik Hosanagar is a professor at the Wharton School of Business. He says, it's worth remembering that Microsoft was so powerful that the government launched an anti-trust investigation. At issue: whether Microsoft was creating a monopoly by bundling Internet Explorer into its windows operating system. And icing out competitors like Netscape.

"In fact the whole anti-trust investigation was around whether we should break up Microsoft because it had become so powerful that nobody could take on Microsoft," says Hosanagar.

Microsoft settled the case and of course, that turned out to be untrue. In large part, because Ballmer failed to see the radical changes that were to come.

"Steve Ballmer was not aggressive in trying to move Microsoft to other devices or non-windows operating systems," says Michael Cusamano, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. 

While Microsoft was focusing on the desktop, Google was taking over the web and Apple remade itself into a mobile powerhouse. In 2007, when Apple introduced the iPhone Ballmer couldn't have been cockier.

"Five hundred dollars? Fully subsidized with a plan, I said that is the most expensive phone in the world," said Balmer in an interview in 2007, "And it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine. "

Of course, the iPhone was a pretty good email machine. And more important, with its app store, it turned out to be a whole lot more.

"He's not the technology guru, he really is a manager," says Cusamano.

Cusamano says to be fair, if you look at Microsoft's balance sheet, Ballmer did a good job as a business manager. In the last decade, Microsoft's revenue has tripled and it rung up $18 billion dollars in sales last year.

But there's a growing recognition that being a good businessman doesn't make a good tech CEO. He says, in tech, things move so fast that you really need a visionary who can forsee -- and shape -- the future.

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