National News

Can the Democratic Republic of Congo rebound?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 14:00

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been hit hard over the past few decades by war, currency instability and corruption. 

Marketplace's Sabri Ben-Achour recently spent time in the DRC and says, for him, the Congo is both extraordinary and tragic. "It is a place that is sitting on $24 trillion of mineral wealth, and yet it ranks next to last on the planet in terms of human development," Ben-Achour says.

Even with a history of civil wars and a stifling bureaucracy that makes business difficult, some choose to return home to the DRC. In the city of Goma, Ben-Achour says he saw not only new construction, but bustling streets as well.

But what about long-term recovery for the Congo? According to Ben-Achour, the DRC and the U.S. are more intertwined economically than one might think. "We have a power to this place that we don't maybe recognize," he says. "All of our cellphones have minerals that could have come from this part of the world."

America's Highest-Paid Private-University President Made $7.1 Million In 2012

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 13:43

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson's 2012 compensation was mostly the payout of a retention package, but she still would have made close to a million without it.

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(Not) Eaten Alive: A Snake Tale, Made For TV

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 13:22

The show aired to intense interest: More than 20 million people watched Discovery's YouTube trailer for the special, in which naturalist Paul Rosolie said, "We're going to get me inside of a snake."

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Inventor Ralph Baer, The 'Father Of Video Games,' Dies At 92

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 13:20

Video games have become a ubiquitous, billion-dollar industry, but all of the Playstations, Xboxes and Wiis can be traced back to the work of Robert Baer and his "Brown Box." He died Saturday.

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New Entry Program Reunites Some Immigrants With Their Children

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 13:07

A new State Department program would allow U.S.-based Latino parents to bring over children left in home countries. More than 57,000 children made the trip across the U.S.-Mexican border this year.

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Some Liberals And Tea Partiers Unite To Oppose Trade Deals

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 13:06

Environmentalists, union members and consumer advocates demonstrated against trade negotiators Monday. In an interesting political twist, many Tea Party Republicans agree with the liberal activists.

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How Washington's Odd Couple Transformed Welfare

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:54

The new book The Professor and the President looks back at how Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan pushed the Nixon White House to embrace a relatively liberal plan.

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Facing Threats From ISIS And Iran, Gulf States Set To Join Forces

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:40

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council is expected to form an unprecedented, NATO-inspired joint military command. The growing strength of ISIS and Iran's influence has made cooperation more urgent.

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Olive Oil Producers In 'Crisis' From Weather, Pests And Disease

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:31

Global olive oil production is down. Italian groves have been especially hard hit by a disease that killed 1 million trees. Audie Cornish speaks with Curtis Cord, publisher of the Olive Oil Times.

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Big Mac Whacked: McDonald's U.S. Sales Continue To Slide

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:31

McDonald's is not loving its financial numbers. The fast-food chain reported that same-store sales in the U.S. tumbled 4.6 percent in November compared to a year ago, continuing a downward trend.

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GOP Leaders: Gas Tax Hike Could Fuel Fixes To Bad Roads And Bridges

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:31

Several states, including those led by Republicans, aren't waiting for Congress to shore up the federal highway trust fund and help pay for repairing worn out infrastructure.

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Growing wages, job creation, and your money

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:16

321,000 jobs were added in November, with jobs in retail, health care, manufacturing, and professional and business services growing. Unemployment held steady at 5.8 percent.

Another significant change was the increase in hourly earnings for ordinary workers — at .4 percent, wage growth exceeded the anticipated increase by double. The U.S. has struggled with wage stagnation and the jobless rate, and this most recent report cast a sunny outlook for the future of both.

How have you been impacted by changes in the job market? Have you felt some of the benefits to a lower unemployment and rising wages? Tell us more about your experiences in the comments or @MarketplaceWKND.

Obama Administration Unveils New Ban On Racial Profiling

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:12

Attorney General Eric Holder says he hopes state and local police will adopt the new guidelines for federal law enforcers.

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Starbucks, potential tech juggernaut?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:08

If you’ve been to a Starbucks lately, you might’ve used your smartphone or noticed other customers using theirs to pay for their lattes.

Now Starbucks is taking another technological step forward by rolling out a fleet of Powermat wireless phone chargers in its stores.

They may help curb arguments with power-outlet hoarders, but the chargers serve a larger purpose – to burnish the Starbucks brand. The company's adoption of new technology is just as important to its image as the quality of its coffee beans, says Jonah Berger, a University of Pennsylvania marketing professor and author of the 2013 book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On.” 

“Starbucks is an older brand, you know, it's not the new kid on the block,” Berger says, “So, seeming like they're technology-forward, like they know what's going on ... will move [them] from [looking like] sort of a fuddy-duddy company to somebody that's on the cutting edge.”

But this strategy comes with risks, Berger says. If customers don't like the chargers, the technology could come off as gimmicky.

All sorts of restaurants are looking to technology to appeal to younger customers

“McDonald’s, the Coffee Bean, Madison Square Garden also use the Powermat. Starbucks is not the only one out there,” says Betsy Sigman, a Georgetown University business professor. 

When done right, Sigman says, access to new technology gives customers another reason to go to the restaurant and spend more.

Starbucks wants to do more than sell more coffee to young people, Berger says. It also wants to influence the way technology is adopted.

If Starbucks can become "the market-maker" for this technology – and Berger notes that it's a big "if" – the company could become a bigger player in the tech industry.

 

Sandwich Monday: Doritos Loaded

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:00

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try 7-Eleven's latest creation, Doritos Loaded. They're a vaguely Doritos-shaped fried thing stuffed with cheese.

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Jeff Bezos on the best gift he's ever recieved

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:00

Ten years ago, we started calling up big names in business and culture and asking them, "What was the best gift you've received?"

In honor of Marketplace's 25th anniversary and the holiday season, we've pulled the "Best Gift Ever" series out of our archives. Here's the answer we got from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, which originally aired in December 2004:

The best gift I ever received was all the construction toys that my grandfather gave me over the years when I was a little kid. You know, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Legos. 

Every year I'd get a new construction toy of some kind. And then building things is something that has served me well all throughout the years. 

In fact, I love construction toys to this day, and I love them so much that for my fifth wedding anniversary, my wife gave me a huge, 5-foot-tall tool chest filled to the brim with Legos.

 

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Here's how the story originally played when it aired in 2004:

LISA NAPOLI: Time now for our Holiday feature, the Best Gift Ever.

JEFF BEZOS: My name is Jeff Bezos and I'm the founder and CEO of Amazon.com.

The best gift I ever received was all the construction toys that my grandfather gave me over the years when I was a little kid. You know, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Legos.

Every year I'd get a new construction toy of some kind. And then building things is something that has served me well all throughout the years.

In fact, I love construction toys to this day, and I love them so much that for my fifth wedding anniversary, my wife gave me a huge five-foot-tall tool chest filled to the brim with Legos.

NAPOLI: Jeff Bezos is CEO of Amazon.com

BEZOS OUTTAKE: What really turned into the best gift was I then got to spend all of my summers working with him on his ranch. Ranchers build everything so I got to do the construction toys for real. We would arc weld gates and build fences and lay pipelines.

 

U.K. Lawmaker Apologizes For Playing 'Candy Crush Saga' At Hearing

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 12:00

Nigel Mills said his actions "fell short of what is expected of a member of Parliament." But a colleague defended him, saying hearings were "boring" and he himself had had trouble staying awake.

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Ebola Cases Are Down, So Should Liberians Stop Worrying?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 11:11

The country is now reporting fewer than 100 new cases each week. But the CDC's chief there says Liberia must stay alert and not allow the presence of Ebola to become a new norm.

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Santa Claus' estimated salary for 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 11:00

According to insure.com, Santa Claus would make $139,924 this year. This is up 1.5 percent from last year.

The insurance website used Labor Department wage and hour data to calculate its estimate. Most of Santa's salary comes from managing the North Pole toy factory and piloting the sleigh, which the survey determined would earn him the salaries of an industrial engineer and a pilot, respectively.

They also commissioned a survey to see how much people think Santa should make. A total of 29 percent say $1.8 billion, or $1 for each child on the planet under the age of 15. Another 29 percent said he should work for free, and the rest split the difference.

The survey polled 895 adults who said Santa visits their homes.

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