National News

UPS hiring 95,000 workers for holiday season

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-24 02:00

In Chicago this weekend, job applicants will interview at a recruiting event to become temporary UPS drivers. It’s part of an effort by the shipping giant to hire as many as 95,000 seasonal workers across the country to help meet the demand from online Christmas shoppers.

UPS is working to avoid what happened last year, when a rush of last-minute online orders and bad weather led to a public relations nightmare: UPS was late in delivering some Christmas gifts.

To help with the surge of demand last year, UPS eventually hired some 85,000 workers during the holiday shopping season. But it had only hired 55,000 initially. This year, it is taking no chances by hiring more temp workers, and hiring them all earlier in the season.

"UPS will flex its air and ground network with more temporary processing capacity,” says UPS Spokesperson Susan Rosenberg. “And that is everything from added work shifts to sort packages, as well as mobile sorting and delivery centers that are pop-up in some fast-growth locations.”

Rosenberg says UPS began planning for this holiday season on December 26 last year, including “collaborating with the shippers for better volume forecasting.”

Last year, there was a burst of last-minute orders, which, combined with major snow storms, worked against UPS. 

“A lot of the retailers were pushing the last date for delivery back as far as they could to compete with Amazon,” says Yory Wurmser, a retail analyst with eMarketer, an e-commerce consulting firm.

This year, retailers are adding another complexity by changing up how they ship in the first place.

"A lot of retailers are shifting their fulfillment models to shipping from stores. So there’s going to be a big increase in pick-up points,” says Wurmser.

That’s likely to put even more pressure on shippers like UPS this holiday season, as holiday shoppers increase their reliance on shipping. Online orders are forecast to increase 16.6 percent this holiday season, and are likely to see double-digit gains for several years to come, according to eMarketer. 

In Botswana, all eyes are on the election

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-24 02:00

The world’s biggest producer of gem-quality diamonds holds presidential elections Friday. The same party has ruled the country since its independence.

Diamonds have been good to Botswana, but not everyone has benefited equally.

Diamonds helped transform Botswana from a very poor country into an upper-middle income economy. Former U.S. Ambassador Michelle Gavin says Botswana avoided the dreaded ‘resource curse.’

That’s when countries with rich natural resources experience low economic development. Gavin says Botswana largely protected its revenue.

“It hasn’t gone into Swiss bank accounts; it’s not in some former president’s yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean,” she says. “In Botswana, you can see what happened to those revenues. You can see it in the roads you drive on, the schools and the clinics that you pass.”

Botswana ranks high on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. You still see poverty, though. And income inequality.

“There’s tremendous inequality and there has been for years in Botswana,” says political science professor Amy Poteete of Concordia University. “It’s one of the more inequitable countries in the world.”

Poteete says the volatility of diamond prices has increased in recent years, which plays into the country’s lower growth rates.

Whoever wins this presidential election will face continued pressure to diversify the nation’s economy.

 

Parking valet on demand

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-24 02:00

Recently, I was late for a meeting in downtown San Francisco. Worse yet, it was during the workday when it was impossible to find parking. 

Now, this is a problem you’ve likely encountered if you live in a big city—That is, circling around looking for parking. Well, no surprise, the techies in Silicon Valley have an app for that. And so I pulled out my iPhone, clicked on a parking app called Luxe and told it where I was going.

When I got to my location, Kelda ran up to greet me. She was my Luxe valet.

“How long are you staying today?” she asked.

I told her about an hour. And then I asked Kelda how she knew what side of the street I was going to be on.

She took out her iPhone and said, “I have it right here on the app and so you can see where you’re coming from.”

Kelda took my car to a parking lot that had partnered with Luxe. For this service, I pay five-dollars-an-hour with a $15 dollar maximum. Not bad for valet parking in downtown San Francisco. And when I was ready to leave, I pulled out the app to get my car.

Curtis Lee, the CEO of Luxe Valet, says despite its name, the start-up isn’t just providing a luxury, it’s using technology to tackle real transportation problems.

“Thirty percent of traffic is people looking for parking,” he says. “And in parts of San Francisco, that amounts to 27 minutes on average” of people circling around.

With parking being a $30 billion industry in the United States alone, Lee points out there are a handful of start-ups in San Francisco that are trying to capture that market.

“I call it the 'instant gratification economy,'” says Liz Gannes, a reporter at Re-code. She says it started with services like iTunes, where with one click, Apple could zap a song to your computer. Now smartphones are bringing it into the real word.

“You push a button on your phone and get rides through Uber and Lyft,” she says.

She says this new iteration of the instant gratification economy has a few big challenges. First off, these parking-tech companies probably don’t make sense outside of densely populated cities

“And, you’re dealing with real world goods and services,” Gannes adds.

Unlike, say, a digital music file, you can’t just zap up a hundred parking spaces. Plus, you need real people in the real world to provide the service.

“One of the ways that different companies are doing that is that they’re working with people who are not full-time employees and are subcontractors,” Gannes says. 

And that introduces real world labor issues. In other words, as the instant gratification economy tries to move offline, tech companies are losing their online advantage and facing many of the same problems brick-and-mortars do.

 

Silicon Tally: Nadella must have good karma

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-10-24 02:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by Kevin Roose, a writer for New York Magazine.

var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-nadella-must-have-good-karma", placeholder: "pd_1414149019" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'https://polldaddy.com/survey.js':'http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

European Scientists Conclude That Distant Comet Smells Terrible

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-24 00:53

A European spacecraft has picked up a foul odor emanating from a comet called 67P/C-G. Imagine sharing a stable with a drunk person and a dozen rotten eggs.

» E-Mail This

Iraq's Abu Ghraib Is Back In The News, Now As A Front-Line Town

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-24 00:53

A town west of Baghdad and home to a notorious prison, Abu Ghraib is where Iraq troops are bracing for a possible attacks by Islamic State militants. Many local residents feel caught in the middle.

» E-Mail This

With Ferguson Protests, 20-Somethings Become First-Time Activists

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-24 00:53

Near Ferguson, Mo., young people are taking the lead in protesting police brutality. Many say they had never considered activism before, but saw Michael Brown's shooting death as a call to action.

» E-Mail This

A Tale Of Immigration Unleashed In 'Green Dragons' Film

NPR News - Fri, 2014-10-24 00:53

The film Revenge of the Green Dragons is based on the true story of a Chinese-American gang in New York City that helped traffic unauthorized immigrants from China in the 1980s and '90s.

» E-Mail This

Recently Returned From Africa, Doctor Tests Positive For Ebola At NYC Hospital

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 17:48

A doctor, identified as Craig Spencer, who had worked in Ebola-stricken countries with Doctors Without Borders, had been monitoring his health and arrived at the hospital today with a fever.

» E-Mail This

Criticized Over Missing Mexican Students, Governor Of Guerrero Will Step Down

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 17:41

Angel Aguirre had been under growing pressure to step down as the investigation of the student's disappearance dragged on.

» E-Mail This

EU Leaders Agree To Cut Emissions By At Least 40 Percent

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 15:44

The president of the European Council said the agreement marked the "world's most ambitious" energy policy. Environmentalists worry it still falls short of what's needed to curb global warming.

» E-Mail This

Calling 911 On Your Cell? It's Harder To Find You Than You Think

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 14:24

If you call 911 from inside a tall building, emergency responders may have difficulty finding you. Cellphone GPS technology currently doesn't work well indoors — but the FCC hopes to change that.

» E-Mail This

Second White House Fence Jumper Had Been Arrested Before

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 14:19

Dominic Adesanya, 23, has been charged with two misdemeanors. Adesanya was stopped on the White House lawn by two Secret Service dogs.

» E-Mail This

Park Service Construction Damaged Native American Burial Sites

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 14:13

National Park Service officials approved $3 million in illegal construction projects over a decade that damaged one of the nation's most sacred American Indian burial sites in northeast Iowa.

» E-Mail This

How 'Foodies' Were Duped Into Thinking McDonald's Was High-End Food

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 13:53

A viral video shows people lauding fare billed as an "organic" fast-food option that was actually McDonald's. It wasn't just pranksters playing tricks on these poor folks, but maybe their brains, too.

» E-Mail This

ACLU Challenges Miami Law On Behalf Of Homeless Sex Offenders

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 13:29

Miami-Dade County has strict limits on where sex offenders can live — so strict, many wind up living in outdoor encampments. Now the ACLU is challenging the law, which it says is harsh and arbitrary.

» E-Mail This

What's My Risk Of Catching Ebola?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 12:57

Folks in the U.S. are in a panic about catching Ebola. Let's just say, you're more likely to be eaten by a shark. The situation in Liberia, however, is starkly different.

» E-Mail This

Cigarette-Maker Reynolds American To Ban Smoking At Work

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 12:22

Until now, Reynolds employees have been able to light up at their desks. But come January, workers will have to either go outside or use specially equipped smoking rooms.

» E-Mail This

FDA Cracks Down On Fake Ebola Cures Sold Online

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-23 12:22

The Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to companies marketing products claimed to be cures for Ebola. One firm says it will drop such claims — but it's still selling the product.

» E-Mail This

Pages