National News

Ex-IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn's Prostitution Ring Trial Begins

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 05:34

The former IMF head, whose career unraveled amid allegations he raped a hotel maid in New York, went on trial in France in a new case. He is accused of procuring prostitutes for orgies at a hotel.

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How do sports teams get their championship T-shirts so fast?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 05:20

Listener Danielle Addleman from Novato, California, has always wondered about how major league sports teams get T-shirts that declare them the champions immediately after they win.

To figure out how the winning team gets their hands on those T-shirts so quickly, I wanted to understand just what it takes to make one of these commemorative tees. So I visited a screen-printing company called AKT Enterprises in Pomona, California. The warehouse, where T-shirts are printed and packaged, was warm and smelled like ink.

Daisy Palacios/Marketplace

AKT’s head of West Coast operations, Robert Pfeffer, gave me a tour. He told me about the different variables that go into the T-shirt making business, "type of garment, color of garment, locations, size of artwork, the different colors that are going into the print and the type of inks that are used."

The longest part of the process is figuring out what the client wants. For example, if you needed shirts for your kid’s entire little league team, "standard screen printing is probably anywhere between a 7- to 10-day process," Pfeffer says. "To get garments ordered, get everything here, get your artwork approved, and then to actually have it printed and shipped out to you."

But when the client is an entire football league? The planning starts before the season does.

Jim Pisani, president of Majestic Athletic, has an entire team dedicated to championship events for the major league sports and the NCAA.

"They plan about six months out for each event, from the product, the T-shirts and the fleece that are going to be used, to working on designs with each one of the leagues," Pisani says. "During what we call the ‘hot market’ – whether it’s the Super Bowl, the World Series or the Stanley Cup championship – we do what’s called ‘locker room T-shirts.’"

Those locker room T-shirts are the ones you saw the Patriots wearing after the Super Bowl, and that you can buy right away at the stadium. Every year, shirts are printed for both teams before the final game and are kept in closely guarded boxes behind the scenes. The second the clock expires, workers take the winner’s shirts onto the field and give them to the new champions. And just like that – instant marketing for the same T-shirts that will be in stores the next morning.

However, Pisani says, most championship T-shirts that you can buy in stores the next day are printed right after the game.

"That’s when we’ll really kick into gear. We’ll have product ready within less than 24 hours, sometimes within two to three hours depending on where the location is," Pisani says.

Manufactures and retailers pre-position thousands of blank shirts, jackets and hats at printing facilities all over the country. As teams are eliminated in the playoffs, so are the screen-printers that were hired in their region. So, when the Super Bowl’s game clock was running out, the T-shirt print workers in Seattle and in New England run in and wait for the count – to start up the T-shirt press.

Daisy Palacios/Marketplace

“The actual printing, once the order is taken, the stencil is made, and everything is set up – it probably takes anywhere between 10 to 15 seconds,” Pfeffer says.

Depending on the complexity of the design, T-shirt printers move pretty fast. "I’ve seen numbers upward over 600 an hour and as few as 200 an hour," Pfeffer says.

Big orders like these might require the winner’s T-shirt print shop to run for at least 18 hours and bring in a second shift. The shops hired to print the losing team’s gear just go home.

What’s going to happen to the pre-printed shirts that say the Seahawks won the Super Bowl? Twenty years ago they would have been destroyed, but the leagues and retailers now partner with nonprofit organizations and donate the clothing to Third World countries.

The only condition the league sets with these organizations is that the licensed apparel never makes it way to the U.S. market, says Beau Stephens, senior vice president of university business at Navigate, an investment analysis firm that specializes in sports and entertainment.

"I think they take it very seriously because it’s additional revenue. They fiercely protect it in that they don’t want misprinted merchandise on the streets either," Stephens says.

The majority of the donated gear comes from retailers. "On average, the typical amount is probably somewhere in the $2 million range that goes overseas," he says.

Which means there’s a strange bright side to blowing the big game. Sure – the Patriots made its hometown fans happy, but the Seahawks will get new fans all over the world.

Punxsutawney Phil Scoffs At The Idea Of An Early Spring

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 04:44

The world-famous groundhog saw his shadow his morning. His prediction on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., came as a winter storm moved from the Midwest to the Northeast.

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Watch The Super Bowl Or We'll Kick This Dog: The Saddest Ads Ever

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 04:43

After years of nearly naked women and crazy animals, the Super Bowl ads had a new theme this year: your heart, and how to break it.

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Bummer Of A Groundhog Day: Potent Winter Storm Targets Northeast

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 04:11

The National Weather Service is warning of "bitterly cold weather" from the Ohio Valley to New England, with Boston expected to get up to 12 inches of snow.

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WATCH: The Interception That Won The Super Bowl

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 03:02

The play came from New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, who intercepted a Russell Wilson pass at the goal line with 20 seconds left. The result: Patriots over Seahawks, 28-24.

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President's plan to tax foreign earnings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 03:00

President Barack Obama hopes to raise $238 billion for infrastructure projects by taxing the foreign earnings of U.S. companies.  

Currently, firms pay no taxes on their earnings from abroad until they move those earnings to the United States, at which point they face a 35 percent corporate tax rate. The result is that many firms have kept that money abroad. 

“They have a strong incentive to not repatriate the profits,” says Joseph Cordes professor of public policy at George Washington University. Firms are now sitting on $2 trillion of foreign earnings stashed abroad. In the past, the government has tried to suck that money into the U.S. by offering a tax holiday – temporarily slashing the rate from 35 percent to 5 percent, according to Roberton Williams at the Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center. He says that has made the problem worse: “The history of repatriation gives firms an incentive to leave money overseas and wait for another tax holiday.”

The president’s plan offers a one time tax on earnings of 14 percent, which is higher than a tax holiday but lower than the tax on the books. Moving forward, firms would have to pay taxes on foreign earnings at a rate of 19 percent, whether or not they bring the money home.  

PODCAST: Cider has its moment

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 03:00

First up, we take a moment to better understand a piece of President Obama's budget proposal set for release today that might find some support from some members of both parties in Congress. Plus, although sales of alcoholic cider currently amount to just 1 percent of the beer market, sales are way up. In Vermont, where craft beer is already big, some say Vermont is poised to become the Napa Valley of hard cider.

The President hopes to tax foreign earnings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 03:00

President Barack Obama hopes to raise $238 billion for infrastructure projects by taxing the foreign earnings of U.S. companies.  

Currently, firms pay no taxes on their earnings from abroad until they move those earnings to the United States, at which point they face a 35 percent corporate tax rate. The result is that many firms have kept that money abroad. 

“They have a strong incentive to not repatriate the profits,” says Joseph Cordes professor of public policy at George Washington University. Firms are now sitting on $2 trillion of foreign earnings stashed abroad. In the past, the government has tried to suck that money into the U.S. by offering a tax holiday – temporarily slashing the rate from 35 percent to 5 percent, according to Roberton Williams at the Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center. He says that has made the problem worse: “The history of repatriation gives firms an incentive to leave money overseas and wait for another tax holiday.”

The President’s plan offers a one time tax on earnings of 14 percent, which is higher than a tax holiday but lower than the tax on the books. Moving forward, firms would have to pay taxes on foreign earnings at a rate of 19 percent, whether or not they bring the money home.  

Cider makers think Vermont could be their Napa Valley

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

Consumption of hard cider in the United States has been growing, thanks in large part to women and millennials. Part of the appeal has been dietary. People on paleo and gluten-free diets can imbibe. But hard cider appeals to locavores and consumers committed to craft brewing. In Vermont, where eating local is practically the state motto, craft cider makers are thriving.

At Citizen Cider in Burlington there are 10 different ciders on tap. Co-founder Kris Nelson poured your thirsty correspondent a Brose, which is cider fermented with whole blueberries.

“It doesn’t drink like a blueberry wine or a cider,” Nelson explains. “It drinks more like a bubbly Rosé from southern France.”

Citizen Cider is eager for local farmers to grow apples just for cider-making. But here's the problem: farmers get far less for the smaller, blemished apples used to make cider than they get for so-called dessert fruit, which commands a price around $25 a bushel. According to University of Vermont researcher Terry Bradshaw, apple growers in Vermont are being cautious about the emerging cider market. 

“There are some orchards in the state that are planted for this market,” said Bradshaw, who makes hard cider at his home in Calais, VT. “But nobody is putting in a sizable orchard just because the economics aren't really figured out yet.”

Production and infrastructure costs are lower for cider apple orchards, but it take several years for new orchards to become productive. Citizen Cider president Justin Heilenbach is confident that the market will adapt.

“Nobody ever wanted a whole crop grown for hard cider making, and now there’s a bunch of people that do,” Heilenbach said of Vermont’s craft cider makers. “What's going to happen with this is, like any other industry, as there's more money on the table, there will be more people that want to plant those orchards and there'll be more people that want to buy” the apples grown there.

The hard cider industry expects that in the next decade, cider will rise from 1 percent of the beer market to 5 percent. 

 

 

 

Budget day feels a lot like Groundhog Day

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

President Barack Obama is releasing his budget on Groundhog Day. You remember Bill Murray in the "Groundhog Day" movie, reliving the same day over and over?

President Obama was stuck in a routine, too. Year after year, his budget bowed to sequestration cuts. “There was the same script over and over again, where he was trying to put out a budget to meet the Republicans halfway,” says Mike Konczal, a fellow at the progressive Roosevelt Institute. 

He says this year, President Obama is departing from the script. In fact, in an op-ed in the Huffington Post, the President says his budget “will fully reverse the sequestration cuts.”

Konczal is delighted. “Yeah, I think it’s a great move,” he says. But even some Democrats say President Obama may be going a bit too off-script, and could risk alienating voters worried about the deficit.

“There are limits as to how far down the President can go down this road without incurring some political risks,” says Bill Galston, a former Clinton White House official and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. And the budget, of course, is mainly a political road map. No one expects Congress to approve it.

You bought a counterfeit sports jersey. So what?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

As soon as the clock ran down on Super Bowl Sunday, out came the preprinted commemorative t-shirts and hats. Sports memorabilia is a huge industry, but so is counterfeiting. Federal investigators seized nearly 20 million dollars’ worth of counterfeit hats, t-shirts, and other souvenirs ahead of the Super Bowl, in a year-long effort they dubbed “Operation Team Player.”

Alan Zimmerman, a professor of international business at the City University of New York Staten Island, says many consumers view knock-offs as a victim-less crime, believing they’re taking money from rich firms and rewarding a local manufacturer instead.

But counterfeiters can often be a part of larger criminal organizations.

“Counterfeit products are just a black market revenue stream for criminal organizations, to fund their large scale activities, everything from guns, drugs, violence, you name it,” says Bryan Cox, a spokesman with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of the government agencies involved in Operation Team Player.

How do you solve a problem like censoring YouTube?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

Silicon Valley was once again on the spot in Europe last week. French president Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that Google and Facebook should be treated as “accomplices” of hate speech if they fail to block “extremist” content. A day later, the European Union’s counter terrorism chief said it was up to governments to flag “terrorist-related” videos on YouTube.

All this talk, as well as the disturbing proliferation of terrorist propaganda online, has raised questions about how sites like YouTube can screen what users upload. 

At the moment, a lot of this process is user-based. “This is a very human moment, where people look at something and say, 'That is completely inappropriate for our community,'” says Karen North, Director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at USC Annenberg. It’s our responsibility as a community to alert YouTube, she says.

Among the challenges of policing YouTube's content: the sheer volume of daily uploads — YouTube says 48 hours worth of video is uploaded every minute. There's also the fact that YouTube is all about user-generated content. Given this, North says it’s impractical to expect Google to monitor each upload, and then decide whether it's appropriate or not.

This is not a new debate. YouTube was in a similar soup back in 2012, when it was alleged that a video on the site sparked violence in the Middle East. There were calls back then for Google to curate its content far more.

There have also been suggestions of governments being more involved in this process. But North says such a development, especially in the U.S., would only result from “a long, complex negotiation.”

 

Obama's Budget Proposal Lifts 2013 Caps, Adds Billions In Spending

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

The president's $3.99 trillion proposal, released Monday, calls for more spending on domestic programs, infrastructure and defense — and includes tax hikes the new Congress is unlikely to approve.

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A post Super Bowl huddle up

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:30
28-24

The final score of Sunday night's Super Bowl, which saw the New England Patriots win their fourth title with a last-second interception at the one yard line, following a miraculous play had nearly propelled the Seattle Seahawks to victory. It was a nail-biter, and that's on trend. The New York Times' Upshot points out that Super Bowls are getting more exciting over time, with most games in the past decade decided on a touchdown or less.

$20 million

That's how much in counterfeit sports memorabilia was confiscated in a sweep by Federal investigators a week before the Super Bowl. The fake hats, t-shirts, and other souvenirs were all printed in anticipation of the game's outcome. And while some believe they may be supporting local manufacturers by purchasing the goods,  a spokesman with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says revenue from the counterfeit industry often supports black market activities.

28.4 million

That's how many tweets were sent about the Super Bowl from kickoff to the end of the telecast, Twitter reported late Sunday night. The conversation peaked at 395,000 tweets per minute, when a goal-line interception clinched the game for the Pats at 20 seconds left. Twitter made a gorgeous map showing activity all around the world during the game.

$785,216.96

That's what it would cost to buy every item advertised during a Thursday Night Football game from last fall, according to an analysis from the Verge. This total comes from 115 that added up to a little less than an hour of ads. 

The Theft Of An Infant Son: In Pakistan, A Not Uncommon Crime

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:02

Shazia Zia's newborn baby boy was taken from a maternity ward less than a day after she gave birth in Islamabad, and the family, hospital authorities and police officials disagree over who's to blame.

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Fast-Sprouting Acorn Challenges PBS' British TV Dominance

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:02

The niche digital portal Acorn holds rights to some of the best-known British TV shows. David Folkenflik reports it's now streaming some of those shows on its own, in competition with PBS and the BBC.

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Here's How To End Iowa's Great Nitrate Fight

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:02

Des Moines, Iowa, wants to control nitrate pollution in nearby rivers. It's often called fertilizer runoff. But the best way to reduce it involves planting different crops, not using less fertilizer.

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Fight Back Against Parkinson's: Exercise May Be The Best Therapy

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:02

Several times a week Mike Quaglia dons bright red boxing gloves and pummels a hundred-pound punching bag. What's unusual is he has Parkinson's disease and the boxing helps alleviate his symptoms.

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Obama Addresses Vaccinations, Other Issues In NBC Interview

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-01 21:49

President Obama encouraged parents to vaccinate their children and said the U.S. is doing everything it can to rescue a young woman held by the Islamic State, speaking in a wide-ranging interview.

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