National News

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.

Microsoft names Satya Nadella as new CEO

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

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. Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst at BGC Partners, joined us to discuss the move.

Click play on the audio player above to hear the whole interview.

'Secret Contacts' Reported Between Afghan President, Taliban

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:50

President Hamid Karzai has balked at signing a security agreement with the U.S. According to The New York Times, representatives of the Taliban and Karzai have been in contact about a peace deal. It's thought Karzai may not want to sign the deal with the U.S. while he's talking to the Taliban.

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Will Microsoft's new CEO be able to satisfy investors?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:38

There's word this morning that a long-time Microsoft man will become the company's new chief executive, Satya Nadella. Founder Bill Gates is stepping down as chairman, but he'll still be around, as a resident technology expert. Significantly, the outgoing CEO, Steve Ballmer will stay on the board. In a statement, 46 year old Nadella said "The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform."

Robert Bontempo, a professor at the Columbia Business School, joined us to discuss the move. Click play above to hear more.

Microsoft Picks Insider Nadella As CEO; Gates Takes New Role

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:30

Satya Nadella has been with Microsoft since 1992. Most recently, he led the company's "cloud and enterprise" group. Bill Gates, Microsoft's co-founder, will no longer be the company's chairman. He's going to be a "technology adviser" to Nadella.

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How healthcare reform aims to control healthcare inflation

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:28

America's new health insurance system, while improving, is still not up to snuff. And the rate of people signing up for coverage in the new insurance marketplaces is still lower than forecast. But one thing that has gotten lost in the debate around healthcare are signs that the costs of care, healthcare inflation, might just be moderating. Marketplace's economics guy, Chris Farrell, joined us to discuss.

Click play on the audio player above to hear more.

8 Things Worth Knowing About Microsoft's New CEO, Satya Nadella

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:25

He's hyper-educated and his background is in the cloud. Learn more about the Indian-American Microsoft veteran who became the third CEO in the company's 38-year history.

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Market recap: Corrections

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:14

After dropping two and a quarter percent yesterday, the S&P 500 will start the day down nearly six percent for the year so far. The Dow is down 7 percent since New Year's eve. We talked to Sam Stovall, Chief Equity Strategist at S&P Capital IQ for a consultation.

Click play on the audio player above to hear the interview.

Congress holds hearing on army recruiting fraud

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:03

Today on Capital Hill, the Financial and Contracting Oversight Subcommittee is holding a hearing on a massive criminal investigation related to an Army National Guard program called the Recruiting Assistance Program. After handing out more than $300 million in referral bonuses, there are allegations of widespread fraud within the Army.

The program was created back in 2005. There weren’t enough soldiers to meet the demands of Iraq war so the Army created the program boost recruitment by dolling out bonuses ranging from $2,000 to $7,500 for referrals.

Official army recruiters were not eligible for bonuses. But many are accused of using someone else’s name to sign up for the program.  Other officers allegedly used the names of people who were already enlisted to collect bonuses

In 2007 the company that the Army contracted to run the program, Docupak, alerted the Army to suspected cases of fraud but it appears that neither the Army nor the contractor had a system in place for preventing officers from claiming fraudulent bonuses.

The program was cancelled in 2012. There are at least 200 officers who remain under investigation. One guardsmen Xavier Aves was already convicted in June and sentenced to 57 months in prison after scamming the system for $244,000. This whole investigation is expected to drag on through 2016.

New tech calls for better batteries

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 05:45

This week, the wearable tech company Pebble launched it's app store, offering downloads like Yelp notifications that will appear on your smartwatch. But there's a problem: Battery life. As wearable technology grows, our battery power will need to grow too.

We talked to our friend at CNET Lindsey Turrentine for some perspective. Click play above to hear the interview.

Where have manufacturing jobs gone?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 05:42

Most economists say factories are hiring fewer people because workers are so much more productive now, so you don’t need as many.  And workers are now using very sophisticated tools.

“If you cut something perfectly to plan with a laser, you don’t have to smooth off the edges with a file in order to make it look nice," IHS economist Mike Montgomery says.

There are other reasons for the fall in factory work, too, says Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group formed by manufacturers and the United Steelworkers. He says U.S. exports are down, even though we’re officially out of the recession.

“The dollar gains some steam in the aftermath of recessions," Paul explains.   "And that makes our exports less competitive.  It makes imports a little cheaper.”

Plus, Paul says, the economy is still underperforming.  He’d like to see a dose of government stimulus spending, which he says would goose the economy and get factories humming.  

Market slump continues in Japan

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 05:37

Today, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell two point nine percent and Japan's Nikkei fell four point two percent.  But it's not just Asian markets picking up a psychological cue from New York. The BBC's Duncan Bartlett has been watching this from Tokyo.

Click play above the hear the whole interview.

Creationism Vs. Evolution: The Debate Is Live Tonight

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 05:20

Bill Nye, "the science guy," and Creation Museum founder Ken Ham will challenge each other's views. Their conversation will be webcast live from Kentucky. The idea for the debate arose after Nye posted a video warning against teaching creationism to kids and Ham responded with a video of his own.

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Watch five romance movies to save your marriage

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 04:06

Want to stay married?  Simply watch five movies with your spouse.  A just-published study by UCLA and University of Rochester looked at three ways to help couples stay together.   Intensive therapy sessions to help manage conflicts worked. So does compassion and acceptance training.  But what also works just as well, is way quicker, and could actually be fun is watching five movies in one month about relationships.  Movies and a little discussion cut the divorce or separation rate from 24 to 11 percent after three years.

You can try this at home by following the instructions here.

After 10 years of reminding you of other people's birthdays...

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

Happy birthday to Facebook! The social media giant turns 10 today which is like 80 in human years.

Facebook might be getting older, but it's looking good. The company just announced stellar earnings and a money-making strategy that had everyone excited. The reason: It's all about the News Feed.

When Facebook rolled out the News Feed in 2006, a lot of users were unhappy, but the idea took off and spawned dozens of imitators. Today Facebook pretty much is the newsfeed. 

"When I turn on my Facebook, I have it going right to the newsfeed," says Ira Kalb, a professor of marketing at USC, "Most people want to look at what their friends are doing and they also want to know what the latest news is."

Facebook's new winning strategy? Putting ads in the newsfeed instead of just next to it. Amy Mitchell, Director for Journalism Research at Pew Research Center says, "You're scanning across, just as you scan across all the other content in your feed."

Facebook's biggest challenge has been showing users mobile ads that aren't disruptive and annoying. USC's Ira Kalb says with News Feed, they seem to have cracked the code.

"They're like embedded and they fit in really well," Kalb says, "So that's why I think it really is effective."

All the information Facebook has on us doesn't hurt, we seem to like what we see. The number of Facebook ads we're clicking on is four and a half times higher than it was a year ago.

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