National News

The underdog of contrived shopping holidays

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-27 09:38

Thanksgiving is, of course, a holiday about family and food and being thankful for what you have. It is also, however, a holiday that is increasingly about commerce, retail commerce especially. 

This year more than any shoppers are going out on Thanksgiving itself, online and even in person. Then there is tomorrow, Black Friday, followed by a lesser known shopping holiday, Small Business Saturday. 

Kyle Huntoon* is a fourth-generation woodworker from Jackson, Michigan. He moved from his hometown to Detroit open his woodworking business Hunt & Noyer. “I guess I have the underdog spirit in me," says Huntoon. “I’ve always thought of Michigan as kind of an underdog state, and I like that aspect of living in Detroit.”

This weekend, Huntoon will participate in what’s known nationally as Small Business Saturday, which hopes to lure shoppers away from big box retailers. It’s sort of the underdog of contrived shopping holidays.

“I think it’s in its maybe first three years,” says Huntoon who first found out about Small Business Saturdays about a year ago on social media. You may have seen the hashtag #shopsmall or come across this this commercial.

The irony here, is that this commercial was made by a giant company, American Express. That is not lost on analyst Marshal Cohen.

“Without a national sponsor it was kind of floundering around out there, says Cohen. “It really wasn’t gaining any traction.”

This year, Cohen expects Small Business Saturday to gain some traction. So on this Thanksgiving day, as the whole family of fake shopping holidays gather for dinner, this could be the first year that Small Business Saturdays is not seated at the kids table, though it may have to sit next to Uncle Cyber Monday, who always smells like spam.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Kyle Huntoon. The text has been corrected.

For P.D. James, A Good Mystery Celebrated Human Intelligence

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 08:12

The British author of best-selling detective stories has died at age 94. "In a sense, the detective story is a small celebration of reason and order in our very disorderly world," she told NPR.

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Foreign Guesthouse Reportedly Attacked In Kabul's Diplomatic Area

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 07:36

A blast and gunfire was heard just hours after a suicide bomber targeted a British embassy vehicle, killing a British national.

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PODCAST: EU pushes Google break-up

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-27 07:25

First off, the EU has voted overwhelmingly to break up Google and other search engines to prevent them from stacking results with their own services. We'll talk about what the vote means and doesn't mean. Then, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is meeting Thursday, and with oil prices at a four-year low the group is at a crossroads. Jamie Webster tells us about OPEC's tough choice: cut production and sacrifice market share to raise prices, or stay the course and let prices keep falling. Finally, Tennessee is about to become the first state in the nation to pay for every student to go to community college for free. But the new program ends up pushing potential students toward federal grants they would have gotten anyway but not applied for. It's marketing for higher ed disguised as an innovative state funding program.

Wacky Wrestlers Of Yesteryear

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 07:11

In America, there's a fine line between gimmicky wrestling and performance art.

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OPEC Holds Production Steady, Signaling Lower Fuel Prices

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 06:49

Ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Austria could not agree to cut production in an effort to stabilize global crude prices.

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A Nationwide Outpouring Of Support For Tiny Ferguson Library

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 06:02

The Ferguson Public Library has become a refuge for community during a difficult time. In response, donations to the library have reached "several orders of magnitude" higher than ever.

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What's the best day to shop for holiday bargains?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-27 05:58

Black Friday sales long ago jumped their 24-hour confines. And with good reason: American consumers spend a third of their annual retail expenditures during these last few weeks of the year.

But this year there are fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so retailers are pushing more deals than ever, according to Thom Blischok, a retail analyst with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“It would be fair to say that this will be the richest holiday season with regard to the numbers of sales and the percentage of sales,” Blischok said. “And let’s not forget online shopping.”

That online shopping holiday, once known as Cyber Monday, is lately more like Cyber Week. This year Adobe Digital Index found that online shopping deals will peak on Thanksgiving, with an average markdown of 24 percent.

And if you’re wary of scouring Amazon while you’re basting your turkey, Adobe analyst Tamara Gaffney says there’s a reason you might want to reconsider.

“By Black Friday you’re going to have a two times higher out-of-stock when you shop online. When you get to cyber Monday, which is December first, it will be five times higher,” Gaffney said.

So analysts say the best days to shop will be Thanksgiving and Black Friday. It seems the advice is: shop early, shop often.

Holiday Travel Snarls Look To Be Easing

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 05:45

AAA says some 46 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles for Thanksgiving — the largest number since 2007.

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OPEC is stuck between lots of oil and a hard place

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-27 05:30

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is meeting Thursday, and with oil prices at a four-year low the group is at a crossroads.

Marketplace sustainability reporter Scott Tong says OPEC is facing a changed oil industry and a tough choice. They could cut production and sacrifice market share to other producers, namely the U.S., or they could stay the course and let prices keep falling.

There's no easy answer, and Tong says the cartel could be in for gridlock not unlike what we've seen in Washington. That's good for oil producers in the U.S. right now, but if prices get too low it could spell trouble for the fracking boom here.

Listen to David Gura's full conversation with Tong in the audio player above. Below, you can hear Gura's interview with Jamie Webster, who's in Vienna for Thursday's meeting.

Your Adult Siblings May Be The Secret To A Long, Happy Life

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 05:03

Sibling relationships are the longest-lasting family ties we have, and they're among the most likely to bring health and happiness as we age. Think on that when your brother grabs the wishbone.

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British Mystery Novelist P.D. James Dies At 94

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 05:00

The author of such books as The Black Tower was best-known for her series featuring Scotland Yard detective Adam Dalgliesh.

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Could Turkey Breeders Cure The Ailments Of Our Big-Breasted Birds?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 03:03

The standard commercial American turkey is the product of decades of intense selective breeding. But breeding for efficiency and size has created new health problems scientists must grapple with.

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EU votes to push Google break-up

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-27 02:00

Update: The European Parliament voted in support of breaking up Google Thursday morning. The text has been updated to reflect this.

Google is facing pressure in Europe to stop promoting its own products and services in its search results.  Lawmakers in the European parliament voted Thursday to press the search and tech giant to break up those services.

The was spearheaded by Spanish lawmaker Ramon Tremosa, who insists he and his colleagues are Google fans.

“We like Google, we use Google, I use Google everyday on my iPhone.” Tremosa says. “But Google has a monopoly, a 95 percent share of the search engine market in Europe, and it’s unfair when links to its own products and services come top in its own search results. It’s unfair to European competitors and consumers.”

Thursday’s parliamentary vote is non-binding, it won’t force Google to break up. But Kevin Poulter of the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell says the resolution is aimed at the European Commission, which after four years  is still carrying out an antitrust probe into the company.

“What the parliament is trying to do is apply that little bit more pressure to the commission.” Poulter says. “The European parliament is starting to swing their weight around and saying ‘We want some action taken.'”

That action could be punitive. The European Commission has the power to fine Google up to 10 percent of its $50 billion annual turnover .

Google says it has made three “offers of remedies” to the commission, but all three were rejected.

EU votes to push Google break-up

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-27 02:00

Google is facing pressure in Europe to stop promoting its own products and services in its search results.  Lawmakers in the European parliament vote Thursday  on whether Google should be forced to unbundle some of its services.

The vote has been spearheaded by Spanish lawmaker Ramon Tremosa, who insists he and his colleagues are Google fans.

“We like Google, we use Google, I use Google everyday on my iPhone.” Tremosa says. “But Google has a monopoly, a 95 percent share of the search engine market in Europe, and it’s unfair when links to its own products and services come top in its own search results. It’s unfair to European competitors and consumers.”

Thursday’s parliamentary vote is non-binding, it won’t force Google to break up. But Kevin Poulter of the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell says the resolution is aimed at the European Commission, which after four years  is still carrying out an antitrust probe into the company.

“What the parliament is trying to do is apply that little bit more pressure to the commission.” Poulter says. “The European parliament is starting to swing their weight around and saying ‘We want some action taken.'”

That action could be punitive. The European Commission has the power to fine Google up to 10 percent of its $50 billion annual turnover .

Google says it has made three “offers of remedies” to the commission. But all three were rejected.

Keeping everyone fed over the holidays isn't easy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-27 02:00

The holidays are always a busy time for food pantries. The recession and federal cuts to food aid have made things busier. Some organizations were gathering food for the holidays as early as last spring. 

For a look at how food pantries are adapting and handling the demand, we traveled Traverse City, Michigan, home to one of the state's largest food pantries.

3 NFL Games On Tap To Satisfy Thanksgiving Football Fans

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-27 00:42

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without football. The Chicago Bears face the Detroit Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks play the San Francisco 49ers.

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Stories Of Your First Thanksgiving In The U.S.

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-26 23:51

Not surprisingly, many of the stories we heard from you were about food. You had issues roasting the turkey. Your mom found, um, a creative solution to making your bird a golden brown.

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School For Husbands Gets Men To Talk About Family Size

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-26 23:50

The average woman in Niger bears seven children — the world's highest birth rate. And the country can barely feed its current population. How do you convince people that smaller families are better?

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Millennial Doctors May Be More Tech-Savvy, But Is That Better?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-11-26 23:49

Text messages from your doctor are just the start. Millennials are the next generation of doctors and they're not afraid to say "chillax" in a consultation or check Twitter to find medical research.

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