National News

Starbucks CEO co-authors book on valuing veterans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-11-03 02:00

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, has a new book entitled "For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice." He and his co-author, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a Washington Post reporter who covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stopped by to discuss the book, as well as Starbucks' pledge to hire 10,000 veterans and their spouses within five years.

Schultz says his father's military service was one of the catalysts for this project, as well as getting to know former defense secretary Robert Gates, who is on the Starbucks board.

Says Schultz: "There would be a significant loss if we don't recognize the value that the military can bring to the business community and the American society at large. And this is just good business. This is not charity, this is not pity. This is the right thing to do for them and for us."

Audio from this interview is forthcoming.

McDonald's seeks to tailor menu to regional tastes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-11-03 02:00

McDonald’s hasn’t been doing so hot lately. Same-store sales dropped in the third quarter of this year, which helped drag profits down 30 percent. Its CEO said the company’s facing “formidable” headwinds.

Large ships don’t turn easily, but one of the changes the company’s announced is a more regional focus, breaking the country into four zones (instead of its old three) to better respond to the individual tastes of customers in different parts of the country.

But for years, McDonald’s succeeded with a "one size fits all" approach.

“When we look at what has made McDonalds a strong brand, it's consistency, convenience, affordability and strong fast service,” says Darren Tristano, with food-research firm Technomic.

However, he says diners today are more interested customization, like choosing what goes in their burrito at Chipotle.  

This is especially important to millennials, says Andy Brennan, a food analyst at IBIS World.

“Millennials want something different,” he says. “They want to feel like things are customized toward them, they want the ability to choose, and they want high quality things, so unfortunately, McDonald’s doesn’t fit the bill for any of these requirements.”

“The marketplace today is increasingly dynamic and diverse,” Mike Andres, McDonald’s USA President said in a statement. “These changes will enable us to better leverage and support our local market management structure so that we are more nimble in response to and anticipation of the local customer needs and market conditions in a relevant and timely way.”

“The same things that worked nationally, don’t work nationally now,” agrees John Gordon, a food industry analyst with Pacific Management Consulting Group. He says a menu item like spicy chicken wings may play well with customers in Detroit, but miss with customers in Salt Lake City.

Gordon says this regional push is a small step for McDonald’s, but symbolic of the way it needs to decentralize—and a sign that bigger changes may be coming.

Obamacare in the Supreme Court (again)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-11-03 02:00

The Supreme Court is expected to announce this week whether or not it will hear the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act—the King versus Burwell case. That case asks whether the Affordable Care Act should be taken literally. UPDATE: The court decided against hearing the challenge.

The ACA specifically grants insurance subsidies for policies bought on state exchanges. Now the question is: “Can the Internal Revenue Service say, 'All right, even for people who’ve purchased insurance through the federal exchange, they can also get the tax credit,'” says Miller Baker, a partner at McDermott, Will and Emery.

Another big ACA case involves something called the Origination Clause, which requires all tax bills have to start in the House of Representatives. This case could face long odds.

“I believe that there has only been one successful Origination Clause case in history, and that was over a century ago,” says Timothy Jost, a professor at Washington and Lee University Law School. Jost says opponents of the healthcare law will have to prove it’s a tax bill. And he says it did originate in the House, but was overhauled in the Senate. 

There are other lawsuits that challenge specific aspects of the healthcare law—from contraception to the delay of the mandate for employers to insure their workers—but these aren't likely to overturn it, experts say.

From Bad To Worse: A Tough Day For The Washington Redskins

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 13:03

It began with a bus crash and protests over the team's name and ended with a 29-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

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U.N.: End Greenhouse Emissions By 2100 Or Risk 'Irreversible' Damage

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 10:39

A new report says that if human-produced, heat-trapping gases aren't phased out by the end of the century, there will be "severe, pervasive and irreversible" consequences.

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After Acid Attacks And Execution, Iran Defends Human Rights Record

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 08:50

Iranian officials are lashing out at a U.N. report portraying Iranians as suffering from an opaque justice system, regular oppression of women and religious persecution under President Hassan Rouhani.

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Kenyans Wilson Kipsang, Mary Keitany Take NYC Marathon Titles

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 08:43

Kipsang has also won in Berlin and London in just over a year. Keitany, a one-time London Marathon champ, was running in her first 26.2-miler since giving birth in 2012.

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Ukraine's Separatists Claim Victory In Defiant Vote

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 06:56

Elections held in Donetsk and Luhansk have been condemned by the Ukrainian government, the U.S. and European countries.

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Scores Killed In Apparent Suicide Attack At India-Pakistan Border

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 06:21

The attack occurred on the Pakistani side of the famous Wagah border post, where crowds gather nightly to watch border guards in a choreographed routine.

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Lights Back On In Bangladesh After Nationwide Blackout

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 05:02

The failure of a link that supplies electricity from neighboring India is suspected to have caused the massive outage on Saturday.

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Co-Pilot Killed In SpaceShipTwo Crash Was Experienced And Steady

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 04:42

Mike Alsbury, 39, died when Virgin Galactic's prototype reusable space plane apparently broke apart in midair over the Mojave Desert during a test flight on Friday.

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A Collection Of Clues To America's Educational Past

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 04:03

Tucked away in boxes, deep in the collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, are objects that tell the history of American education.

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How To Invent A Catchy Drug Name

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 03:45

Cialis, Celebrex, Ambien, Symbicort — such fanciful and evocative names! Who comes up with these? NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Gary Martin, president of a pharmaceutical naming agency.

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Citizen Patrols Guard Borders From Ebola

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 03:45

The West African nation of Ivory Coast borders Liberia and Guinea, two countries hit by Ebola. But it hasn't yet recorded a case, in large part because farmers are patrolling the porous borders.

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Donetsk Rebels Hold Controversial Government Elections

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 03:45

Separatists in eastern Ukraine hold their own elections Sunday as part of an effort to create an independent state. Meanwhile, fighting for control of Donetsk's airport continues, despite a ceasefire.

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Recovery Or Not, Some Still Feel Economic Pain

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 03:45

The government is ending the federal stimulus program. In the For the Record segment, NPR's Rachel Martin speaks to people around the country about whether they feel the economy has recovered.

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U.N. Panel Issues Climate Warning

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 03:45

The U.N.'s climate science panel has finished its report on global warming. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks to Michael Oppenheimer about the conclusion that humans are altering the Earth's climate.

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Ga. Senate Race Is Surprisingly — And Expensively — Close

NPR News - Sun, 2014-11-02 03:45

With control of the Senate up for grabs, Democrats are pinning their hopes on a seat in Georgia. Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn is neck-and-neck with Republican David Perdue.

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She Lost Her Fiance To Ebola But Found A New Mission

NPR News - Sat, 2014-11-01 13:13

Decontee Davis survived Ebola, but her fiance died of the virus. Now she is working with children whose parents have had the disease — and spreading the word that early treatment is critical.

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Woman In Street Harassment Video: 'I Do Not Feel Safe Right Now'

NPR News - Sat, 2014-11-01 13:00

Actress Shoshana Roberts says she has received several violent threats because of her role in a widely-watched anti-street harassment PSA. Still, she says, she doesn't regret raising the issue.

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