National News

Fears Grow That ISIS Might Target Palmyra's Ancient Treasures

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-21 04:38

Ancient ruins in the Syrian city captured by Islamist extremists could suffer the same fate as priceless artifacts that were destroyed in other cities seized by the group.

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Pipeline Operator In Calif. Spill Reportedly Had History Of Infractions

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-21 03:37

Plains All American Pipeline had accumulated 175 safety and maintenance infractions since 2006, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

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PODCAST: New York as a lesson in economics

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-21 03:00

A new report from the OECD shows income inequality in many parts of the world including the U.S. The data shows the gap between the rich and poor is seven times larger than it was in the '80s. Plus, our senior economics contributor Chris Farrell talks about the economic lessons learned and taught by New York City.

Sen. Rand Paul Stages 'Filibuster' To Protest Patriot Act

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-21 02:52

The Kentucky senator and presidential candidate opposes the collection of bulk telephone data and other surveillance measures that the government says are needed to combat terrorism.

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#MotorCityDrive: Is Detroit's Economic Engine Roaring Back To Life?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-21 02:03

Michel Martin heads to Detroit for a live conversation with some of the creative forces fueling the Motor City's economy. She'll ask what's driving Detroit's future now?

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How the Disney 'ecosystem' works

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-21 02:00

Disneyland in California turns 60 this summer, and it's kicking off festivities with a big party this weekend. Revelers can stay overnight at Disney's theme parks in California and Florida.

But Disney, the media company, has more than a birthday to celebrate. A couple of weeks ago it reported second quarter profits that beat expectations—led by its theme parks and the film Frozen.

How can a film from two years ago still be a profit maker for the company?

"We're a company with a very long tail," explained Disney CFO Jay Rasulo at a media industry conference last week.

That long tail refers to the various merchandizing, theme park attractions, and other efforts that can generate cash from popular films and Disney characters long after they last appeared on the big screen.

Disney's consumer product sales brought in almost a billion dollars last quarter.

"We really look at every aspect of our uniquely linked-together ecosystem," Rasulo said at the conference.

This is the Disney way of doing things, according to Marty Sklar, a longtime company executive who worked with Walt Disney when the first theme park opened.

"It really goes back to things that Walt did in merchandizing Mickey Mouse ... as early as the '30s," says Sklar. "So that is a pattern that was long ago established."

Sklar says even Disneyland attractions like Tomorrowland and Frontierland were prompted from content out of Disney's studio.

Parent Gap Inc. benefits as Old Navy gets stylish

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-21 02:00

Clothing retailer Gap Inc. reports first-quarter results on Thursday. Revenue in 2014 totaled $16.2 billion, up 3.2 percent from the previous year. For the last four quarters, profit has gone up year-over-year by an average of 4 percent. But there's an interesting fragmentation within parent company Gap Inc. Last fiscal year, store sales fell 5 percent at Gap stores; Banana Republic's sales were also unimpressive. But at Old Navy, sales went up 5 percent.

Old Navy started out as a place where the whole family could pick up cheap fleece jackets and tank tops.

"They really weren't known very much for being fashion forward," says Jane Thomas, marketing professor at Winthrop University.

Other retailers, like H&M and Forever 21, started grabbing young shoppers. But then Gap Inc. hired the executive who led H&M's expansion into the U.S., Stefan Larsson, and asked him to revamp Old Navy.

"It's brilliant strategy," Thomas says.

Now, plain T-shirts and khakis are bold prints and crinkle-gauze tops. Mark Cohen, head of retail studies at Columbia University's business school, says Old Navy is making its merchandise more interesting and attractive. But the Gap has an identity crisis.

"Is it trading into the teen segment with American Eagle, Abercrombie and Aeropostale, or is it trying to move up market to an older customer? I'm not sure they get it," Cohen says.

If the Gap does get it, he says, it's not making it clear.

An egg-cellent shortage of eggs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-21 01:58
$12.7 billion

That's how much CVS Health Corp will reportedly pay to acquire Omnicare Inc, a pharmaceuticals provider. As Bloomberg reports, pharmaceutical companies are looking for ways to consolidate to take full advantage of the rising demand for pharmacy services.

87 percent

That’s the percentage of afflicted chickens in the recent avian flu outbreak that are egg-laying hens, according to the New York Times. And that potentially means big business for a company like Hampton Creek, which sells an egg substitute product. The chief executive of Hampton Creek says eight companies, including General Mills, have been in contact about purchasing supplies. It seems that without planning for the inevitable shortage of the real stuff, these companies might really lay an egg.

5 percent

That's how much sales for Old Navy increased last fiscal year. In an effort to shed its reputation as a store for cheap basics, Old Navy hired Stefan Larsson, who helped oversee H&M's expansion stateside. And the numbers show the style makeover has worked. That's good news for parent company Gap Inc., but leaves its sister franchise, The Gap, with an identity crisis—The Gap saw sales fall 5 percent in the same amount of time. 


That's how old Disney will turn this summer. We take a look at how the economic ecosystem of the company works—from parlaying the success of films into merchandising, as well as attractions in one of many theme parks. Frozen, for example, was released two years ago, and the company is still reaping the benefits—its recent second quarter earnings report showed stronger-than-expected numbers.

$100 million

That's how much the city of Baltimore was given 20 years ago as part of a program called The Empowerment Zone. Delivered in the form of a block grant and a package of tax credits for businesses and employers, the award went to six cities, with some wiggle room for each to choose how the money could be used. Baltimore chose to focus on job creation in its poorest neighborhoods. Marketplace's Noel King recently took a trip to Baltimore to answer the question: How many jobs does $100 million get you?

David Letterman Leaves Late-Night TV With A Near-Perfect Final Show

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-21 01:00

Letterman led his last CBS Late Show Wednesday after 33 years in late night. The host left as he arrived: with a hilarious show made on his own terms.

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WHO Calls For $100 Million Emergency Fund, Doctor 'SWAT Team'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 23:41

The World Health Organization isn't ready for the next pandemic or international health crisis. So the agency's leader is calling for major reforms at the WHO. But will the changes be enough?

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Avian Flu Outbreak Takes Poultry Producers Into Uncharted Territory

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 23:40

Avian influenza is ravaging poultry flocks across the Upper Midwest. The virus is "doing things we've never seen it do before," and understanding about transmission is very limited, a scientist says.

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Spending To Fight Wildfires At The Expense Of Preventing Them

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 23:38

In Washington state, a community coalition is bringing homeowners, businesses and government together to figure out how best to use what little money there is to protect the land from destruction.

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States Lack Accurate Statistics On Widespread Heroin Use

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 23:36

Opiate abuse has reached crisis levels, but some states aren't doing all they can to determine the depth of the problem. Finding up-to-date statistics for specific drugs is often difficult.

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Why A Chinese Government Think Tank Attacked American Scholars

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 23:35

The group says American professors are misinterpreting the country's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). That's huge for China's Communist Party, which is deeply invested in history — and in who interprets it.

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Postman Who Gyrocoptered Onto Captiol Lawn Faces Two Felonies

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 16:39

Doug Hughes, who delivered letters decrying the role of big money in politics, is only accused of misdemeanors for breaching federal airspace; the felonies are lack of proper license and registration.

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Islamic State Takes Control Of Ancient City Of Palmyra

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 15:33

The city is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites, and it gives the militant group access to gas fields and roads across the Syrian desert.

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Chipping Away At The Mystery Of The Oldest Tools Ever Found

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 15:13

How do you prove a rock was actively shaped and used as a tool more than 3 million years ago? Scientists found a kit of more than 140 artifacts in one spot, and say the tools' crafters were pre-human.

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For Israel, Soccer Becomes A Geopolitical Football

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 15:10

The head of FIFA visited Israel and the West Bank this week, where Palestinians are petitioning to expel Israel from soccer's governing body — and its biggest international tournaments.

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McMadness: Activists Pile On At McDonald's Shareholders Meeting

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 14:07

From workers calling for higher wages to teachers blasting McDonald's for marketing to kids in schools, a bevy of critics have descended upon the company's headquarters in Illinois this week.

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FDA Wants To Pull Back The Curtain, Slightly, On Farm Antibiotics

NPR News - Wed, 2015-05-20 13:28

The Food and Drug Administration wants to know which farm animals are getting treated most heavily with antibiotics. But the FDA's proposal still falls short of the best European data practices.

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