National News

Tech Week: 'Leaky' Angry Birds And Digital Invades Cinemas

NPR News - Sat, 2014-02-01 04:01

The NSA is said to collect data from apps like Angry Birds, small movie theaters struggle to go digital, and a Silicon Valley mogul offends a whole bunch of people. If you missed this week's news, All Tech has you covered.

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Germany's New Defense Minister: More Peacekeeping Missions Welcome

NPR News - Sat, 2014-02-01 01:56

Ursula von der Leyen is the first woman to hold the job. She has no military experience and is best known for social policies such as expanded parental leave. But she has already said that Germany should play a more active role in foreign missions, and that could involve sending troops into conflict zones.

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Booming Oil Fields May Be Giving Sex Trafficking A Boost

NPR News - Sat, 2014-02-01 01:55

The oil rush in and around North Dakota has brought an influx of mostly male workers flush with cash. Law enforcement agencies and activists say that's creating ample opportunity for organized crime — and that more must be done to prevent women from being forced into prostitution.

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Ask Carmen: Lightning round listicle edition

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 15:32

Here at Marketplace Money we get a ton of questions, and we love to answer as many as we can. That's why we created the Lightning Round: 5 personal finance questions, 5 personal finance answers, in 5 personal finance bullet points.

This week, Carmen was joined by Ben Johnson from the Marketplace Tech Report.

1. Matthew from Yonkers, NY asks a question on the minds of many. What steps should I take to avoid identity theft?

Carmen says: “Don’t carry your social security card.” Also, check your credit card statements online everyday. One last tip, “don’t use your debit card to buy things online, please?”

2. Marion from Cincinnati, Ohio says her and her spouse are in their early 60s, and invested completely in stocks. They’d like to put all of their money in a total bond market fund. Should they?

Carmen says: “Any investment at a point in time can be a bad investment.” But being heavily invested in stocks close to retirement means you don’t have time to recover if another stock crash happens. “You should not be more than 50 percent in the stock market.” And diversify! Some stocks, bonds, etc.

3. Jill from Flagstaff, AZ asks, “What happens to the debt of a person that dies without a will? If a blood relative of mine dies, who is responsible for the debt they've accumulated such as a line of credit or mortgage?”

Carmen says: “This is one of my favorite questions of all time, since people don’t ask until it happens to them.” Whatever debt a person has gets taken out of their estate, which could affect your inheritance but “you are not liable for their debt.”

4. Mary in Tuscon, AZ wants to know: “What are the current tax laws regarding capital gains for a home sale?”

Carmen says: “You can make a sweet $250,000, tax free, on the gains on a primary residence.” if you own it as a couple, you’re up to $500,000.

5. And Christian in Duluth, MN decided at the end of this year (New Years resolution!) to contribute more to retirement. His employer 401(k) is already maxed out, should he look for another investment vehicle?

Carmen says: Yes, yes he should. Roth IRA ideally, if Christian is under the income limit, or check out irs.gov for other ideas.

Time's up!

Ask Carmen: Leaving a career for love

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 15:01

More folks are getting married -- or remarried -- later in life and there's something about blending more-mature finances that can bring up a lot of questions.

We're going to head over to Connecticut and talk to Susi who is 54 years old.

She is engaged to someone who, let's just say, has done very well in his career. But Susi also has a great corporate job that pays six figures and has done well with some of her investments, so she wants to know what the next step should be when it comes to merging money, pre-nups, or if she should leave her job.

“I want to make sure I am doing the best that I can with the assets that I have,” Susi says.

Carmen says: “If he’s asking you to drop a career, and to give that up, there’s a price you’re paying for that … for every year that you’re giving up your corporate year. It’s not just one year salary. It’s pensions and [retirement accounts].”

To hear more of Susi’s questions and Carmen’s advice, hit the play button above

Sidelined By Brain Injury, Ex-NFL Player Copes With 'Desperation'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 14:25

During his 10-year career, Sean Morey absorbed countless hits, more than a few of which resulted in concussions. "Every time I hit somebody it was like getting tasered," he says. Now, he suffers from lingering conditions, like debilitating headaches, and is an advocate for players' health.

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After Overcoming Early Obstacles, Yellen Assumes Fed's Top Job

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 14:17

The world of central banking is largely a man's world. But Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve's new leader, has been undeterred by such barriers since she was in high school in Brooklyn. Now global financial markets will be watching her every move.

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Southern Fishermen Cash In On Asia's Taste For Jellyfish

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 14:15

After the worst year for shrimping in recent memory, fishermen in the Southeast U.S. say they're thankful to catch jellyfish for the Asian market. But conservationists say the expanding jellyfish fishery is a sign of the ocean's decline.

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You Hate My Job: Football referee (plus, a ref quiz!)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 14:12

Despite a career as an NFL referee from 1989 to 2008, Bill Carollo says it was always nerve wracking: “If you say that you’re not nervous, you’re probably kidding yourself, and you probably aren’t really prepared," says Carollo. “You think you know yourself pretty well, but when you get out on the big stage and Vanessa Williams [is] singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl and jets are flying over ... I thought I was really ready, and I couldn’t even swallow." 

Carollo says death threats were always part of the job, even when the right call is made. One decision in a championship game that went against Tampa Bay resulted in “200 calls [to] my house. I’m unlisted. 15 to 16 people were arrested for death threats. I had to pull my kids out of school. And that’s when you make the right call." (See video of the controversial call over at NFL.com

Take Bill Carollo's officials' exam  

[<a href="//storify.com/Marketplace/what-s-the-worst-ref-call-in-history" target="_blank">View the story "What's the worst ref call in history? " on Storify</a>]

 

 

Christie Knew Of Lane Closures, Former Port Official Claims

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:56

The official says there's evidence that the New Jersey governor knew about politically motivated lane closures as they were happening.

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More Republicans Push For Fixing, Not Repealing, Obamacare

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:55

Some conservatives say the health care law is here to stay. They're urging Republicans to shift their focus from repealing it to changing parts they don't like. The Tea Party wing calls that capitulation. And it's pushing primary challengers against Republicans they say are soft on repeal.

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After 3-Day Retreat, GOP Battle Plan Still Only An Outline

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:52

Consensus might be hard on the issues of the debt ceiling and immigration, where the Tea Party wing has little in common with Speaker John Boehner and his allies in the House leadership.

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Why women don't roar at work

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:39

Tammy M. has never asked for a raise at work.

“If they feel that they want to reward me, then that’s on them,” Tammy says. “I don’t feel it’s my place to say ‘Hey, I need more money, please.’ I don’t like to pat myself on the back. I feel like people will just appreciate what you do and if they don’t, it’s not really my job to point it out to them how ‘good’ I’ve done.”

Crystal M. has requested a raise before, but like Tammy, she’s uncomfortable calling attention to her achievements on the job: “I am not as confident as I think I should be when it comes to talking about my accomplishments at work.”

That raise?

“It’s actually been very slow going and it hasn’t actually occurred. It’s been about a year and a half long process through two bosses,” Crystal says.

If last year brought the era of the “lean-In” approach for professional women, it’s not reflected in the remarks of these two employees or in the behavior of many more women in the workplace.

Psychologist Jessi L. Smith of Montana State University has observed how hesitant her female colleagues can be to self-promote. When she polled her fellow faculty members about their accomplishments – anything from publishing a paper to planting a garden – to print in a staff newsletter, she received “exactly zero responses.”

Smith says there’s “just a real reluctance and discomfort to announce to the small world of Bozeman, Montana the accomplishments they had been so successful at securing over the last year.”

That experience started her thinking about gender norms and workplace culture. Behaviors – like aggressively promoting yourself to your co-workers and supervisors – are largely accepted when a man is displaying them. If a woman exercises her bragging rights, it can be seen as a negative trait that alienates others.

Career coach Peggy Klaus, author of “Brag: How To Toot Your Own Horn Without Blowing It,” says she’s assisted countless women through their unease about talking themselves up over the years.

“I have seen a real shift in women who would come to me and say, ‘I can’t brag. It’s a sin. It’s pride cometh before the fall. It’s not ladylike,’” says Klaus.

She encourages them to practice singing their own praises in settings with an audience that won’t receive it as negative or braggadocios. And Klaus encourages them to understand that employers will not take note of work successes without help from their employees.

“Certainly if 2008 and the recession and taught us anything, [it’s] that if you sit back and don’t ask and don’t offer up what you’ve done, then you won’t get that promotion or that title or that bonus, “ says Klaus.

Join the conversation about women, work and wages. Leave a comment below or Tweet us @LiveMoney

The “black box” experiment

“Within American gender norms is the expectation that women should be modest,” begins the abstract of “Women’s Bragging Rights,” a study published by Smith and her former student Meghan Huntoon. For their research, they designed an experiment that encouraged women to talk about their accomplishments while providing justification for any discomfort the women may feel.

“We had groups of undergraduate women at Montana State University who are applying for a scholarship and we told them write either an application essay for yourself or to write a letter of recommendation and promote the accomplishments of a friend to win.”

Half of the women were told that there was a “subliminal noise generator” in the room – a black box that would emit an inaudible, high-pitched sound that could cause some anxiety. The noise was a fiction, but the women who were informed about the box had a largely different experience than the women who weren’t told about it.

“They enjoyed the experience more,” Smith says. “When women were able to have this black box to blame for any discomfort that they might have been feeling, they wrote better essays and received $1,000 more on average in scholarship money.”

So, what’s a woman to do if she’s mortified by the thought of self-promotion – or if being vocal about her career successes has made her more enemies than friends in the past?

Smith says, in an ideal world, the onus shouldn’t have to fall on the employee.

“Quite frankly, it is a lot of burden to retrain yourself and then if you don’t do it, well then it’s your own dang fault that you don’t make as much money as someone else and you didn’t get that raise and promotion,” she says. “We would suggest from a social-psychological perspective that the burden is on employers.”

She suggests instead having employees write their own freestyled annual review, supervisors should ask pointed questions and normalize the practice of self-promotion.

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Why women don't roar at work

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:39

Tammy M. has never asked for a raise at work.

“If they feel that they want to reward me, then that’s on them,” Tammy says. “I don’t feel it’s my place to say ‘Hey, I need more money, please.’ I don’t like to pat myself on the back. I feel like people will just appreciate what you do and if they don’t, it’s not really my job to point it out to them how ‘good’ I’ve done.”

Crystal M. has requested a raise before, but like Tammy, she’s uncomfortable calling attention to her achievements on the job: “I am not as confident as I think I should be when it comes to talking about my accomplishments at work.”

That raise?

“It’s actually been very slow going and it hasn’t actually occurred. It’s been about a year and a half long process through two bosses,” Crystal says.

If last year brought the era of the “lean-In” approach for professional women, it’s not reflected in the remarks of these two employees or in the behavior of many more women in the workplace.

Psychologist Jessi L. Smith of Montana State University has observed how hesitant her female colleagues can be to self-promote. When she polled her fellow faculty members about their accomplishments – anything from publishing a paper to planting a garden – to print in a staff newsletter, she received “exactly zero responses.”

Smith says there’s “just a real reluctance and discomfort to announce to the small world of Bozeman, Montana the accomplishments they had been so successful at securing over the last year.”

That experience started her thinking about gender norms and workplace culture. Behaviors – like aggressively promoting yourself to your co-workers and supervisors – are largely accepted when a man is displaying them. If a woman exercises her bragging rights, it can be seen as a negative trait that alienates others.

Career coach Peggy Klaus, author of “Brag: How To Toot Your Own Horn Without Blowing It,” says she’s assisted countless women through their unease about talking themselves up over the years.

“I have seen a real shift in women who would come to me and say, ‘I can’t brag. It’s a sin. It’s pride cometh before the fall. It’s not ladylike,’” says Klaus.

She encourages them to practice singing their own praises in settings with an audience that won’t receive it as negative or braggadocios. And Klaus encourages them to understand that employers will not take note of work successes without help from their employees.

“Certainly if 2008 and the recession and taught us anything, [it’s] that if you sit back and don’t ask and don’t offer up what you’ve done, then you won’t get that promotion or that title or that bonus, “ says Klaus.

Join the conversation about women, work and wages. Leave a comment below or Tweet us @LiveMoney

The “black box” experiment

“Within American gender norms is the expectation that women should be modest,” begins the abstract of “Women’s Bragging Rights,” a study published by Smith and her former student Meghan Huntoon. For their research, they designed an experiment that encouraged women to talk about their accomplishments while providing justification for any discomfort the women may feel.

“We had groups of undergraduate women at Montana State University who are applying for a scholarship and we told them write either an application essay for yourself or to write a letter of recommendation and promote the accomplishments of a friend to win.”

Half of the women were told that there was a “subliminal noise generator” in the room – a black box that would emit an inaudible, high-pitched sound that could cause some anxiety. The noise was a fiction, but the women who were informed about the box had a largely different experience than the women who weren’t told about it.

“They enjoyed the experience more,” Smith says. “When women were able to have this black box to blame for any discomfort that they might have been feeling, they wrote better essays and received $1,000 more on average in scholarship money.”

So, what’s a woman to do if she’s mortified by the thought of self-promotion – or if being vocal about her career successes has made her more enemies than friends in the past?

Smith says, in an ideal world, the onus shouldn’t have to fall on the employee.

“Quite frankly, it is a lot of burden to retrain yourself and then if you don’t do it, well then it’s your own dang fault that you don’t make as much money as someone else and you didn’t get that raise and promotion,” she says. “We would suggest from a social-psychological perspective that the burden is on employers.”

She suggests instead having employees write their own freestyled annual review, supervisors should ask pointed questions and normalize the practice of self-promotion.

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Businesses close ranks against Obama energy policies

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:16

The Partnership for a Better Energy Future may be the first group to bring together the American Knife Manufacturers Association, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, and the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.  

Led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, the business coalition says it wants to work with the Environmental Protection Agency, as the agency looks beyond coal in its efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Translation: Members say they’re going all out to limit the EPA's impact on their business.

The 70-plus members of the Partnership for a Better Energy Future all have one thing in common, says Karen Harbert, CEO of the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "All of these members utilize energy."

The EPA is moving forward with regulations on coal-fired power plants. Harbert says the partnership’s members see more energy regulations coming down the line. "We recognize that and we support that," she says. "But what we aren’t seeing on the other side, at the EPA is a fair, balanced and open process."

From Harbert’s perspective, the EPA’s coal regulations have been rushed, and she thinks they’ll hurt the energy industry more than necessary. She says her members worry that broader regulations could hurt the overall economy.

That is why the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce is on the member list. "If our economy’s succeeding, people have more money and more wherewithal to travel," says the group's president, Brad Deen. "So we’ve found that what’s good for the American economy is good for tourism." 

The National Fertilizer Institute sees a big threat. "This is a bet-the-farm situation for the industry," says the insitute's president, Christopher Jahn. 

That means pooling resources to lobby both regulators and Congress. And public advocacy. The National Association of Manufacturers says the budget is in the millions, and TV ads are a possibility.  

The partnership’s members say they want to take part in a serious conversation. Pete Altman, director of the Climate and Clean Air Campaign at the Natural Resources Defense Council, isn’t buying it. "The only time when we hear from this crowd, 'Oh we really need talk this through!' is when they're afraid something might actually happen," he says.

He thinks the real goal is delay. He sees the partnership pursuing "a strategy of, 'Well let's drag this out and maybe we'll have a better president.'" If final regulations aren’t in place before President Obama’s term ends, a new president could reverse course.  

Karen Harbert from the Chamber of Commerce denies that her group simply wants to stall.  "We're not saying run out the clock," she says.  "We’re saying, take the time that is necessary to do the analysis."  

 

Amazon Prime: an expensive cash cow

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:16

Not a great day for retail giant Amazon. The company announced 4th quarter earnings and, although revenue was up 20% over the year before, it did not meet expectations.

Amazon might be fast becoming a ubiquitous market force, but its profits have been hit or miss. The company said it might raise fees for its Amazon Prime service from the current cost of $79 dollars a year to $99 or more. Amazon Prime members get free shipping, free access to streaming movies and other perks.

The service is one of the company’s most profitable aspects and one of the cornerstones of its business strategy.

Brad McCarty is director of content for software company Full Contact. He’s a tropical fish man and an Amazon Prime member.

"I have loads of fish. We have primarily angelfish, gouramis, betas and a salt water reef tank as well. I have a few sites that I go to and I do research, but I always end up going back to Amazon to buy them, because I’m a Prime member. And I’m going to get free shipping on that and it's going to be there in 2 days."

Amazon uses data it has on McCarty’s past fishy purchases to get him to buy more. And he does. McCarty says he epitomises the business model for Amazon Prime.

"Amazon is, for the most part, kind of like a perpetual Black Friday sale, right? You bring people in the door with the hopes that they’re going to buy more stuff when they get there."

There are more than 20 million Prime members and the $79 they pay pretty much covers the cost of the free shipping they get. The rest is gravy.

And there’s a lot of gravy. Amazon Prime customers spend twice what regular customers do.

"You start buying everything through Amazon," says Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU's Stern School of Business. Galloway says Amazon has purposefully sacrificed short term profits to get more customers and more pricing muscle. "It's going to have tremendous pricing power and, at a certain point, it will be able to flex that muscle and become a very profitable company."

Still, Galloway says Amazon considering a price hike for Prime could be a sign its investors are getting restless. "Amazon is acknowledging that the cocktail of huge growth and low profitability may be becoming a bitter cocktail for investors," he says.

But the rationale for raising prices, may not be fast cash, speculates Michael Levin, co-founder of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners in Chicago.

"At Amazon, nothing is ever what it seems," he laughs. "If they charge more, I think customers are probably going to spend more. So quite ironically, by raising the price of this membership, they may end up getting people to shop there even more."

A more expensive Prime membership equals a customer who is all the more motivated to get his or her free-shipping’s worth.  

Weekly Wrap: Derivative fight!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:16

This week's wrap was one of our most Marketplace-esque yet. The New York Times' Catherine Rampell and Reuters' Felix Salmon joined us to talk:

Emerging markets:

Rampell: "Confidence feeds on confidence, and if you have a lack of confidence elsewhere, and so many markets are interlinked, then that's problematic."

Salmon: "Most Americans just deal with other Americans; most American companies deal with other American companies. We're not a tiny island nation like the one I come from. If something is going on in Argetina or Turkey, honestly it doesn't matter that much to the United States."

On the GDP, and on which derivative is better:

"I'm going to be optimistic on the first derivative, and you can be pessimistic on the second derivative, and I'm going to be the person going up, and you're going to be going up as well, just not realizing it."

And finally, on how we'll remember Ben Bernanke next time we're making timelines about Federal Reserve chairmen:

"I think he will probably be remembered very positively. At least for rescuing the economy from going off the brink, particularly at a time when Congress was not doing a whole lot to help."

"He didn't win any popularity contests, but given the utter inaction by Congress, he was the one who got the economy going again."

Police Say White Powder Mailed To N.J. Hotels Was Cornstarch

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:01

The letters were sent to several New Jersey hotels near the site of Sunday's Super Bowl, as well as the office of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

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Former Christie Appointee Claims N.J. Gov. Knew About Lane Closures

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:00

In a letter released by his attorney, the Port Authority official who personally oversaw the George Washington Bridge lane closures is alleging that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew about the action. David Wildstein asserts that evidence exists that will contradict Christie's claims to ignorance about the motives behind the lane closures.

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State Dept. Delivers Unwelcome News For Keystone Opponents

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 13:00

The department's final environmental assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline found that blocking the project probably wouldn't stop the development of Canada's tar sands. But the review didn't endorse the pipeline either. Secretary Kerry — and, ultimately, President Obama — will have the final say.

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