National News

To Stop Cheating, Nuclear Officers Ditch The Grades

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:19

A switch to pass-fail grading is curbing the "perfection" culture among U.S. nuclear missile forces. Critics of the old way say striving to be perfect invited cheating by those who launch the nukes.

» E-Mail This

With Men's Y Chromosome, Size Really May Not Matter

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 08:41

The string of genes that make a man a man used to be much bigger, and some geneticists say it may be wasting away. Back off, others say. Y has been stable — and crucial — for millennia.

» E-Mail This

Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 08:19

Birds are everywhere, but the greatest concentration of different birds — the "bird mecca" of America — is not in our great parks, not in our forests, not where you'd suppose. Not at all.

» E-Mail This

Court Orders Russia To Pay Former Yukos Shareholders $50B

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:52

The Permanent Court of Arbitration called Russia's seizure of the oil company "devious and calculated." The ruling, one of the largest such awards, adds to tensions between Moscow and the West.

» E-Mail This

Dollar Tree To Buy Family Dollar In $8.5 Billion Deal

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:26

The deal will unite two of the United States' biggest discount stores. Dollar Tree will pay $74.50 for each share of Family Dollar and said it would run the company as a separate brand.

» E-Mail This

For Muslims In Gaza, End Of Ramadan Marred By Fighting

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:08

The Muslim holiday Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and is usually a time for family celebration. This year, it also marks three weeks since the current war in Gaza started.

» E-Mail This

Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar (yes, for more than $1)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:00

Dollar Tree announced on Monday that it is buying rival discount chain Family Dollar for approximately $8.5 billion in cash and stock. The combined company will have 13,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

The deal promises big cost-savings as operations are consolidated. Both companies have reported earnings that underperformed analysts’ predictions in recent quarters. Family Dollar has also been under pressure from investor/activist Carl Icahn, who has called for the chain to be sold.

During the recession, consumers flocked to these super-discount stores. But now, says economist Chris Christopher at IHS Global Insight, consumers’ balance sheets are improving, and moderate to middle income families may be drifting away from the deepest discounts.

“Wages are starting to gain a bit of traction,” says Christopher. “And in addition, there is a little bit of migration of people from the discount stores to the middle-tier retailers.”

Christopher says the super-discount stores — all of Dollar Tree’s items sell for $1 or less; Family Dollar has a wider range of goods reaching slightly higher price-points — can’t raise prices very much. So their margins are being squeezed as inflation starts to pick up at the wholesale and retail level.

How Protecting Wildlife Helps Stop Child Labor And Slavery

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 05:20

Food in supermarkets is increasingly connected to child labor and trafficking. Many laws aimed at ending these abuses overlook a key source of the problem: The rapid decline of fish and fauna.

» E-Mail This

Team Investigating Downing Of MH17 Turns Back Due To Heavy Fighting

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 05:03

The crew — made up of Dutch and Australian experts — were headed toward the debris field when they heard explosions.

» E-Mail This

Lawmakers Announce $17 Billion Deal Intended To Fix VA System

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 03:42

The package would overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and provide extra funding to hire more doctors and nurses. Lawmakers unveiled the plan on Monday.

» E-Mail This

PODCAST: Turning over a new Leaf

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 03:00

More on the news that Dollar Tree will purchase Family Dollar for $8.5 billion, and what it means for both businesses moving forward. Plus, Nissan is hoping to turn over a new Leaf; While the company most likely loses money on its electric car, it hopes that it will see profits in the longrun. Also, the Muslim American community adds billions to the U.S. economy, especially during Eid Al Fitr, which follows Ramadan. So why haven't marketers caught on?

Conflict In Gaza: Here's What You Need To Know Today

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 02:55

Despite a demand from the United Nations Security Council for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire, fighting continued in Gaza, where the death toll has surpassed 1,000.

» E-Mail This

Mobile payments app offers a window on intimacy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 02:00

Venmo is an app that allows users to exchange money easily with the click of a few buttons, which makes it particularly useful when it comes to everything from going to the movies to splitting the dinner check. The app is also a kind of social network, where both the parties involved in a transaction and the purpose of that transaction can be publicly available, sometimes in humorous ways. Freelance writer and author Chiara Atik recently published an article in Medium’s “Matter" on the topic.

One of the major issues with using more established platforms to see what people are doing is that users are pretty savvy at this point to social media — they know not to post about things they don’t want publicly consumed. However, Venmo currently exists outside of that frame of mind.

“Because Venmo has this utilitarian aspect to it, people are a little bit looser,” Chiara said. 

Even so, money has the power to be a large window into how people interact.

Said Chiara, "It’s a snippet of people’s relationships with each other."

However, as with Facebook and other social networks, this period won’t last. Once enough people are using the app — especially parents — most users will likely make their transactions private. 

Marketing remains largely untapped for Eid Al Fitr

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 02:00

Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid Al Fitr Monday -- It follows the month of Ramadan, a holy month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. For the last week or so, Muslims have been shopping for presents and new outfits for Eid.

Rafi-uddin Shikoh, CEO and Managing Director of consulting firm DinarStandard and lead author of State of the Islamic Economy, puts Muslim spending in the U.S. as high as $124 billion.

But you probably haven’t seen ads calling on American Muslims to spend their holiday money. Shikoh says capitalizing on that spending has not been a priority for marketers, because the American Muslim demographic is not as big as Hispanic, Asian or African American spending blocs.

The lack of attention is suprising, given that when it does happen, it’s a party. A Macy’s in Orange County, for example, put up decorations including ornate towers that stand tall with a message: “Happy Ramadan.”

https://twitter.com/amirlj_

“If you think about it, it's just these two bella tower displays in the women's store, and we had so many people coming in taking pictures with it like it's a tourist attraction,” says Jomana Siddiqui, the graphic designer hired by Macy’s to create the decorations.

Some people were so excited, they spontaneously started doing a dabke, an Arab line dance.

Siddiqui, who also founded online boutique ModernEid, says it’s not about having others validate your holiday. She says if retailers are smart, they'll pay more attention to the American Muslim demographic.

“Say you’re looking it from a retail perspective, making your customers happy and making them feel like, 'Hey, this is a store I want to stay loyal to.' -- That’s what retail is all about,” Siddiqui says. “You want customers to stay loyal to you.”

She says store managers quickly realized the opportunity they stumbled upon.

“I remember this comment stuck out in my head: ‘I'm kind of surprised nobody has done this before.’ It wasn't a question of ‘should we do this?’ It was a question of ‘why shouldn't we?’” Siddiqui says.

It’s estimated there are between 2 and 7 million Muslims in the United States. Mennah Ibrahim, with global marketing firm JWT, argues advertisers should spend more money to target Muslims, especially during Ramadan.

And many do -- just not here in the States.

“Brands like Chanel here in the Middle East provide longer variations of their outfits; brands like Hermès come in larger sizes so Muslims wear them as headscarves,” Ibrahim says.

Google launched the Ramadan hub and DKNY announced a Ramadan-inspired like called “Head Turners,” but the latter can only be found in the Middle East. The companies simply adjust their brand to the location.

Here in the U.S., though, Ibrahim says the same companies tread more cautiously because they're still getting to know the American-Muslim consumer.

We really are living in the (medical) future

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 02:00

We live in the future.

That's not my phrase; it is my daughter Madeleine's invention. True, the monorails remain few and far between, but every once in a while I get a reminder that some of what was once science fiction is no longer fiction.

Recently, I got to spend a bit of time with a physicist and physician who says she is trying to do for medicine what Google did for information technology. Her idea is democratize healthcare so that the big stuff doesn't always have to go through professional gatekeepers.

Anita Goel is the chairman and scientific director of Nanobiosym, and chairman and CEO of Nanobiosym Diagnostics. Dr. Goel and her team have come up with a device about the size of an iPad that will be able to tell people if they have malaria, TB, HIV, even cancer. Stick some blood in the thing, and it will look for the genetic markers of a variety of conditions and render a verdict on the spot. The company's Gene-RADAR system is a little medical lab on a microchip, made possible by advances in nanotechnology. Her work recently won the grand prize in the Nokia Sensing X-Challenge.

The technology may end up in homes or at a clinic near you. If this sounds farfetched, remember that once upon a time you had to visit a doctor's office to get your blood pressure checked. Now you can go down to a strip mall or pharmacy, put your arm into a cuff, press the green button and see how you are doing. Or, you might buy a small digital blood pressure reader from a drugstore and use it it at home.

Imagine if this Gene-RADAR technology deployed in the developing world, where doctors, health workers, and clinics are either overburdened or hard to reach. It is likely that the existing rules guiding medical diagnostics would have to change to accommodate this technology if gene-sensing diagnostics are to become widespread. Companies with stakes in the existing ways of doing things will either adapt, or could try to thwart the adoption of something that let's consumers check their own health conditions. 

Dr. Goel and her team are among the contestants in a competition that will award $10 million to those who come up with a Tricorder, a hand-held device that'll identify a list of 15 diseases. It's the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. The award ceremony is set for a year from January.

Click on the media player above to hear Dr. Anita Goel in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio

Car companies are happy to lose money on electric cars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 02:00

Nissan reports its second quarter earnings on Monday. The company has been one of the pioneers in the electric car business with its Leaf. The Leaf is one of the most critically acclaimed electric cars out there, but the business model is still up in the air.

"The cost of those batteries is still too high," says David E. Cole, founder of AutoHarvest. Estimates put the batteries between $10,000 - $16,000. They also need to be replaced every 10 years or so. Nissan is offering Leaf owners replacement batteries for $5,500, which means the company is probably losing money on those batteries.

"Everybody’s working on these batteries," says Cole. "A variety of different technologies are being explored, but the cost has just not come down the way we would like to see it."

In fact, Nissan is probably losing money on every Leaf it sells. Still, it could pay off.  

"People criticized Toyota for years for losing money on every Prius it sold," says John O’Dell, senior editor for fuel efficiency and alternative vehicles at Edmunds.com. "And now Toyota makes a ton of money on every Prius it sells, and it also dominates the hybrid market because it was willing to invest with losses into a long term strategy."

O’Dell estimates electric cars won’t catch on in a mainstream way for another five years.

 

Housing and Urban Development gets a new head

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 02:00

On Monday, the nation gets a new secretary for the department of Housing and Urban Development.

Julian Castro is the former mayor of San Antonio, and HUD has served as an economic backstop during the financial meltdown.

“HUD is very important for people who are in some sort of credit recovery,” says Mark Goldman, who teaches real estate at San Diego State University.

And some expect big things from Castro because he served as a mayor; a political office known for hands-on, take-charge kinds of leaders.

“So they are proactive people once they get into federal office,” says Sheila Crowley is president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

But she says even the best leadership can’t bypass Congress.

“When you’ve got programs that are being starved, it’s just very hard to make progress,” says Crowley.

Israelis Broadly Support Military's Operation In Gaza

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 01:54

Recent polls show more than 8 in 10 Jewish Israelis support the military operation, even as the death tolls climb. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ratings are soaring.

» E-Mail This

Israel Resumes Airstrikes On Gaza After Lull In Fighting

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 01:20

The strikes followed an almost 12-hour pause in fighting and came as international efforts intensified to end the conflict with Hamas at the start of a major Muslim holiday.

» E-Mail This

People Who Feel They Have A Purpose In Life Live Longer

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 00:57

Do you feel like you wander aimlessly through life, or is there a reason you're here? Psychologists say people with a sense of purpose may stress out less. Or they may lead healthier lives.

» E-Mail This

ON THE AIR

KBBI is Powered by Active Listeners like You

As we celebrate 35 years of broadcasting, we look ahead to technology improvements and the changing landscape of public radio.

Support the voices, music, information, and ideas that add so much to your life.Thank you for supporting your local public radio station.

FOLLOW US

Drupal theme by pixeljets.com ver.1.4