National News

North Korea Conducts Artillery Drills Near Southern Border

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 05:19

The exercises, while not uncommon, are considered provocative in the immediate wake of President Obama's visit to South Korea.

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Several Wounded In Shooting At FedEx Facility In Georgia

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 04:28

Police say at least six people were hurt in an incident early Tuesday at the facility in Kennesaw, Ga. The shooter is reportedly dead.

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EU Follows U.S. In Imposing New Sanctions On Russia

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 04:24

The sanctions targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin's "inner circle" drew a response from Moscow, which described them in Cold War terms.

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Twisters In 3 States Kill More Than A Dozen People

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 03:26

About 50 tornadoes were reported in the region in a 24-hour period, according to meteorologists. More severe storms are forecast for the Eastern U.S.

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Which brand is bigger: Oprah or Starbucks?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:58

Starting Tuesday, you can stroll into Starbucks for a Chai Tea with Oprah’s name on it – Teavana Oprah Chai, to be exact. Oprah Winfrey's product and book endorsements used to send sales through the roof. But will the "Oprah Effect" hold, now that she's teamed up with a corporate giant?

"No," says marketing consultant Jonathan Salem Baskin.

He says it's been a while since Oprah was a TV regular. But he says any sales are a win-win for Oprah, since proceeds help her youth education work.

"The only potential downside exists for Starbucks," he says. "However sincerely they want to help Oprah support her schools, their goal is to sell a boatload of cups of tea."

Brand-building expert Denise Lee Yohn thinks Starbucks, known for its coffee, may have this incentive to use Oprah's name.

"Tea may be perceived as being more exclusive, more upscale," she says. Oprah's known for her taste, but, "she also has very mainstream appeal. So this may be a way for Starbucks to make tea seem more accessible and relevant to the average person."

Ringleader Of Human Smuggling Ring Dies, Leaving A Complex Legacy

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:50

Cheng Chui Ping died of cancer in prison on Thursday. She made a career of smuggling thousands of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. and worked with a notoriously violent gang to enforce payment.

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Toyota of Texas

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:45

Toyota is moving its North American headquarters – all three of them. To Plano, Texas, just north of Dallas.

Right now the car company has its sales headquarters near Los Angeles, its manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, Kentucky, and another headquarters in New York.

The move is part of reinvention at the company, says Columbia Graduate School of Business professor Rita Gunther McGrath.

"With the problems following on their latest recall and all the problems they had with unintended acceleration, they were in the process of rethinking a lot of things that had been taken for granted in that company, including things like location," she says.

Moving a large company offers a rare opportunity to alter a business's "social architecture" says McGrath. "It breaks through inertia, shakes up existing power relationships, and it changes the way people share information."

Old rationales for being located in different places were no longer as relevant as they were before. Los Angeles for example, where Toyota has its sales and marketing headquarters, no longer has the draw it once did.

"Once upon a time," says Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer, "the coast of California was the closest part of the mainland U.S. to Japan physically and that mattered," whether for transfer of people or cars. Now, the bulk of Toyotas in the U.S. are built in the U.S., from West Virginia to Indiana.

But why Plano, Texas?

It's closer to Toyotas plants, including its newest, most expensive one in San Antonio. Texas has tried to brand itself as a business-friendly place, and there were undoubtedly economic incentives offered by some constellation of state and or local governments.

But it's not just about the business. Toyota has to convince 4,000 people with families and hobbies and lives to move as well.

"This is difficult – this is a life event for a lot of people," says Dave Sullivan with Auto Pacific. People have to move their families, find new school districts, it's stressful. When Nissan moved to Nashville in 2005, many employees did not follow, creating significant challenges for the company.

Plano, part of greater Dallas, is more palatable than other options.

"Its mild climate, central location, transportation, quality of education – all of that is very desirable," says Kelley Blue Book's Brauer.

Texas also has no state income tax, which, when combined with the lower cost of living than Los Angeles or New York, is a powerful incentive in its own right.

Toyota says offices will move in stages and gradually, and that the move won't be complete until 2017.

Cities want to make your rooftop gardens profitable

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 02:18

On a recent Saturday morning in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the city's River Revitalization Corporation is showing off a plan to add green space to an area that's now dominated by heavy industry. And Lee Christie of architecture firm Perkins+Will is explaining some options.

"You'd be looking at more raised beds or more greenhouses," she says, "which really opens up the possibility for rooftops."

Rooftops have a lot of hidden potential. A new EPA study predicts that as cities grow hotter, replacing flat black rooftops with plants could cool the cities back down.

According to Phil Morefield, one of the co-authors of that study, "any sort of well-designed, well-maintained green roof will give some benefit for the building that it's installed on."

Those benefits include reversing urban warming, absorbing rain before it overburdens sewers, and providing habitat for butterflies.

There's just one problem: green roofs come with a big up-front cost. So now, some cities are experimenting with financial encouragement.

For example, Austin lets developers build more floor space if they include green roofs. And Seattle gives out credits and discounts for rooftop gardens.

"Properties that take advantage of that credit range from single family homes to a regional airport," says Seattle Urban Designer Dave LaClergue, "so they're very different in size and scale."

The gardens on top of the Chloe Apartments in Seattle. That's the Space Needle on the right.

Courtesy of Dave LaClergue/City of Seattle

But it's been a learning process. Many of Seattle's first rooftop gardens died, since they were designed with assumptions based on what worked in east-coast cities. And a garden that cools one city might have less of an effect in another.

"There really isn't a 'one-size fits all' strategy," says Britta Bierwagen, another co-author on that EPA study. "And there are a lot of things to consider."

Financial incentives are similarly fickle. In Nashville, a credit of $10 per square foot of green roof hasn't attracted a single taker. But Portland, Oregon, got an overwhelming response to a credit of just half that much.

That's because green roofs need to be customized to what the market in each city wants, as much as to the weather. One market might respond best to grants, while another prefers tax credits.

Courtesy of Dave LaClergue/City of Seattle

For example, in Portland, the incentive amount was determined in part by the region's damp climate and sewers that combine wastewater with stormwater. "It was the amount that we could apply that essentially would cost less to manage a gallon with a green roof than it would with a pipe," explains Portland Environmental Program Coordinator Matt Burlin.

And green roof incentives aren't just for major cities. In tiny Saluda, North Carolina, the Polk County Community Foundation provided a $6,000 grant for a green roof on the new restrooms at Pearson's Falls.

On a recent afternoon, foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Nager stopped by to see how the plants are filling in. It's looking good: "The roof resembles the forest floor in the glenn below the waterfall," she observes. "There are smooth rocks that fill the space where you expect to see traditional gutters."

It's more than just a few rocks and sage bushes, of course. It's part of a national experiment that's happening right over our heads.

Hiding pregnancy from the marketing machine

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 01:00

When couples find out they are expecting, they usually spread the news to family and friends as soon as possible. When Janet Vertesi, an assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University, found out she was pregnant, she made a very similar call to family and friends, but with very different intentions.

Those close to Vertesi and her husband were told not to post anything on social media sites that would reveal the couples' pregnancy. Vertesi had decided to take her pregnancy off the grid, not because she wasn't overjoyed, but because marketing bots that figure out when a woman is pregnant become relentless in their targeted advertising.

Vertesi says the project was inspired by the invasiveness of data driven marketing that seems to go unchecked. So for the last nine months, she and her husband have paid for all baby-related expenses in cash, avoided social media, and used Tor, a browser that lets you use the internet anonymously, to visit sites like Babycenter.com and Namberry.com. 

"So many of those websites also have trackers and cookies that know that you’re visiting so they can follow you around with advertising afterwards," says Vertesi. What she noticed in hiding her pregnancy from marketing bots was that her activity looked more like someone involved in illegal activity than someone about to have a baby. Tor, for example, is notoriously used for drug deals.

While she wouldn't recommend the experiment to others, Vertesi says it raised some interesting questions:

"What I would recommend is thinking seriously about how and where you want your data to go...That doesn’t mean, 'Don’t participate in social networks' or 'Don’t buy anything online.' But it does mean it’s time to think seriously about how and where we want to engage in these kinds of transactions."

Sterling's Tarnished History Of Alleged Discrimination

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 23:19

Observers say the Clippers owner's current trouble is only the latest in a 30-year record of racism in LA — although he has also been honored by the NAACP for his charity work.

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With Dogs And Batons, Bulgaria Tells Syrian Refugees To Turn Back

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 23:16

As civilians continue to pour out of Syria, some countries are pushing back and telling the refugees they aren't welcome. Bulgaria has been particularly harsh, according to Human Rights Watch.

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Weighing The Risks Of Warrantless Phone Searches During Arrests

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 23:14

Police have long been able to search people without a warrant at the time of their arrest. Two cases before the Supreme Court ask whether cellphones should be off-limits until police get permission.

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Craig Ferguson Announces Late-Night Retirement

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 21:51

The host of The Late Late Show announced Monday that he will step down at the end of the year. The move was no surprise after CBS announced that Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman next year.

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Tornadoes Kill 11 As Storms Move Across The South

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 21:42

After spawning deadly tornadoes that flattened homes and businesses in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, a storm system that also caused havoc in the Midwest had Georgia in its sights early Tuesday.

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Another Round Of Tornadoes Rakes Through The South

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 15:50

Severe damage was reported in Tupelo, Miss., where the mayor said homes and business were destroyed. The severe weather is expected to continue through the night.

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United Church Of Christ Challenges North Carolina Ban On Gay Marriage

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 15:13

Using a novel legal approach, the church argues that the state is violating the principle of "free exercise of religion" by denying it the right to marry people of the same sex.

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A post mortem for the 'worst video game ever'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 15:00

On Saturday, near the New Mexico town of Alamagordo, a group of video game enthusiasts, excavation specialists, and filmmakers started digging a hole in a desert landfill. Why? You may remember some months ago we talked about the legend that in the early 1980s, video game maker Atari secretly dumped tons of video games into a hole in the middle of the desert.

The reasons for this particular move remain a bit of a mystery, but certainly the game maker was in financial trouble. That's in part because of one particular game -- it was based on the movie E.T., and it did poorly. So poorly, in fact, that it's still described as the worst video game in history.

The man who designed Atari's E.T. game is Howard Scott Warshaw. He was there when the video game treasure trove was uncovered. Listen above for the post mortem. 

Will Jupiter align with Mars?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 14:18
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 14:09 Wikimedia Commons

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Tuesday, April 29th:

In Washington, the Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting on interest rates. It's one of eight scheduled over the course of the year.

The Conference Board releases its April Consumer Confidence Index.

46 years ago, in the Age of Aquarius, "Hair" opened on Broadway. Let the sunshine in.

Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst was born on April 29, 1863. He built a media empire and a giant castle which you can tour in San Simeon, California.

And what's the deal with birthdays? Comedian Jerry Seinfeld turns 60.

Marketplace for Monday April 28, 2014by Michelle PhilippePodcast Title Will Jupiter align with Mars? Story Type BlogSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

If your company ID badge was a tracking device...

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 14:08
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 14:48 Courtesy of Ben Weber/Sociometric Solutions

A company called Sociometric Solutions has developed tracking badges for employees.

What if your company ID badge was a tracking device? You'd wear it from the moment you got to work in the morning til you clocked out at night. Your badge would constantly collect data that could potentially benefit you and the whole company.

Great news: It exists.

A company called Sociometric Solutions has developed this technology. They insert microphones, Bluetooth, and other proximity sensors into an employee’s company ID badge. So far, they've had a 90 percent participation rate in every rollout they've done.  

"What we’re trying to do is really quantify what people have always felt to be unquantifiable," says Ben Waber, President and CEO of Sociometric Solutions. "Things like, how are people interacting with each other? How do you talk to customers? How engaged are you in a conversation? And how is information flowing in an organization?"

How does Sociometric Solutions get workers to agree to participate in the research process?

“[We] don’t just come into a company and say, 'Here everybody, wear this sensor.' It's actually about a four week rollout process," says Waber. "We give people consent forms, which show them the actual database tables of what we collect."

Naturally, participants have had privacy concerns. But Waber tells them not to worry: "We won’t share your individual data with your company. We don't even keep your name in the database where we are calculating all the features."

Marketplace for Monday April 28, 2014Interview by David GuraPodcast Title If your company ID badge was a tracking deviceStory Type InterviewSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Ohio Will Increase Dosage Of Drugs In Lethal Injection

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 14:05

It took Dennis McGuire 24 minutes to die after the drugs were injected into his body back in January. After review, the state says he did not experience any pain, but it is upping the dosage.

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