National News

Addressing the obstacles facing female CEOs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-19 02:00

From time to time, one of America's top entrepreneurs stops in — Jules Pieri is CEO of the Grommet, a site that helps launch other companies' new products.

Pieri joined us to talk about obstacles facing female CEOs; why they suffer higher rates of depression, and how to combat the statistic.

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Davos participants gather amidst turmoil and growth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-19 02:00

The global corporate and political elite descend upon Davos once again Wednesday, for the annual economic summit.

This year, much of the talk will focus on the resurgent U.S. economy. The World Bank’s top economist has called it the “single engine” in the global economy.

Still, Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute of International Economics, says this year the American economy is simply winning a global “least ugly contest.”

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So, who's behind the online black market Silk Road?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-19 02:00

Ross Ulbricht, the alleged mastermind behind Silk Road — the online marketplace that used bitcoin for transactions — is on trial this week. Ulbricht’s defense: he was set up by the real Dread Pirate Roberts or DPR, the site’s mysterious founder and administrator.

Who would that be? Mark Karpeles, according to the defense. That’s the former owner of Mt. Gox, a bitcoin exchange that went bankrupt in 2014.

Sarah Jeong, a tech policy journalist who has been writing about the case, says the defense is leaning on the fact that Karpeles had been a prime suspect at one point. She also says Jared Der-Yeghiayan, the agent from the Department of Homeland Security who arrested Ulbricht, is the one who suspected Karpeles.

Ulbricht doesn’t deny that he was involved. In fact, when he was arrested, he was logged into Silk Road on the account “Mastermind,” which showed the site’s finances in detail. But the defense is now claiming Ulbricht founded the site only as “an economic experiment," and that he later “handed it over to others” who lured him back to take the fall.

“The timeline is very odd,” says Jeong. “The same DHS agent who helped arrest Ross, who was undercover as a Silk Road moderator ... less than two months before he participated in arresting Ross Ulbricht, he swore in an affidavit that he had probable cause to believe that Mark Karpeles, the CEO of Mt. Gox was Dread Pirate Roberts. That is really strange.”

States play catch-up with sand mining

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-19 02:00

Fracking for oil and gas consumes about 100 billion pounds of sand every year, much of it from a few Midwestern states. The sand industry has grown faster than regulators can keep up in Wisconsin, which has more sand mines than any other state. Fines for pollution are modest, many mines have not received full inspections, and the state has failed to update its permit for sand mines, even though the old terms expired last year.

In December 2013, the Wisconsin Department of Justice settled its biggest case involving pollution from a sand mine. A company called Preferred Sands admitted to multiple air and water-pollution violations at a site in Trempealeau County. Most vividly, after a spring storm, discharge from the Preferred site went across a road and into a nearby home.

“This sort of mass of sandy, sludgy stuff literally went through an Amish family’s living room,” recalls Pat Malone, a University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension professor who works with local government. “I mean, it’s like waking up in the middle of the night going, ‘I don’t think I’d like to swim!’”

Six inches of discharge blocked the road. Workers spent three days clearing it. But given sand mining’s scale, the fine doesn’t seem very big: $200,000. Six months after the settlement, an investment firm put $680 million into Preferred Sands.

The pace of inspections appears slow. The state Department of Natural Resources says that at last count, just 37 percent of all active mines had gotten full inspections since mid-2013. It hopes to inspect the rest by July.

State Senator Kathleen Vinehout represents Trempealeau County. Asked if she thinks the state is understaffed, she says, “That is an understatement. The state is woefully understaffed.”

The department has enough people, says Deb Dix, who describes herself as the contact person for industrial sand mining at the DNR. However, she says, the state can’t do everything some people would like.

“We are governed by the authority given to us by the legislature,” she says. “I know, that sounds like trying-to-avoid, but it’s not. We have certain authorities for what we can and can’t do.”

One of the department’s responsibilities is to review the terms of permits for sand mines. The most recent terms predate the frac sand explosion — they were written for gravel pits — and staff decided to rewrite them, says Water Division Administrator Russ Rasmussen.

Meanwhile, the old ones expired last spring. New rules haven’t come out yet, but the department has issued some permits under the old ones; an arrangement that Rasmussen describes as “a gray legal area.”

 

Inviting a cyber attack

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-19 02:00

The U.S. and the U.K. plan to conduct cyber war game exercises with each other later this year with a staged attack on the financial sector. It's the first time the two countries have conducted such an exercise, but simulated attacks are used often in private industry where companies concerned about becoming targets of hackers look to bolster their digital defenses. But the goals of businesses and nations differ.

"The government is more interested in infiltration and defensiveness than it is about process or remediation," says Joe Loomis, CEO of CyberSponse.

Loomis says among the things private companies test when they run cyber attack simulations are: "As soon as you're attacked, what are you going to do first ... what data are you going to collect ... how are we going to communicate ... if the network's compromised."

While cyber security is an industry in growth mode, Loomis says there are still not enough businesses running simulations.

"Companies have been doing terribly because they haven't been testing," says Bruce Schneier, Chief Technology Officer Co3 Systems. "So, I think companies are realizing that this has been a hole in their security."

Global spending on all information security is expected to grow eight percent this year to $77 billion, according to research firm Gartner. The cost of digital crime is estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

When owning an apartment means paying $13,000 a foot

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-19 01:30
1 percent

According to anti-poverty charity Oxfam, the wealthiest 1 percent will soon own more than the rest of the world's population. As the BBC reports, the findings coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

76 percent

The portion of Americans who count protecting the country from terrorism as a top priority in the new year, according to a new survey from Pew, neck-and-neck with improving the economy. That's a marked change from last year, which pegged job creation and the economy as the top priorities by far.

50,000 jobs

Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber Technologies Inc. stated that his company would add 50,000 jobs to the European economy this year, taking 400,000 cars off the road in the process. As reported by the WSJ, Kalanick's comments at the Digital Design Life conference come at a time when Uber is facing major obstacles in entering the European market.

1928

The year the Model Municipal Traffic Ordinance was created, providing a template for the regulation of roads nationwide. Most notably, the suggested model included laws against jaywalking, which were pushed through by the automotive industry. Vox has the full secret history of the petty law that ceded control of the road.

100 billion pounds

That's how many pounds of sand are used for oil and gas fracking every year, much of it from the Midwest. And in states like Wisconsin, mines often go uninspected, fines are modest, and some rules have lapsed.

One-fifth

That's about how many U.S. malls have a vacancy over 10 percent, a problem number that turns into an all-out "death spiral" by 40 percent. The New York Times has a fascinating look at the way malls die and the strangely beautiful husks that are becoming more common.

$100 million

New York City is notorious for expensive real estate, but the market for pricey apartments just got more ridiculous. A penthouse at One57, a luxury high rise, recently sold for a record breaking $100 million dollars. As Quartz reports, the previous record was held by Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the daughter of a Russian fertilizer billionaire, who paid $88 million for an apartment in 2012.

Nuclear Talks With Iran Recess After 'Limited' Progress

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-19 01:11

Iran and six world powers wrapped up their latest round of talks in Geneva over Iran's nuclear program. Negotiations resume in February ahead of a self-imposed July 1 deadline for a deal.

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New Justice Department Environment Chief Takes Helm Of Gulf Spill Case

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-19 00:03

John Cruden returns to the department as litigation over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill intensifies. He'll also defend Obama climate change rules and try to protect wildlife while in the post.

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What Does Martin Luther King's Legacy Look Like To A 5-Year-Old?

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 23:35

Teachers all over the country are finding ways to talk about the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In one Washington, D.C., classroom, the lessons about race come alive.

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Why Ants Handle Traffic Better Than You Do

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 23:34

Ants don't show road rage. In fact, some research shows they rarely get into traffic jams, able to maintain a steady speed even as their numbers swell. Can physics explain it?

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Larry Wilmore's 'Nightly Show' To Mimic Sunday Talk Shows

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 23:34

The ex-Daily Show correspondent becomes the only black man to host an entertainment show in late night TV. He doesn't plan on centering the show on race: he's aiming at Sunday morning political shows.

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When Bariatric Surgery's Benefits Wane, This Procedure Can Help

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 23:33

Bariatric surgery works for severely obese patients because it shrinks the size of the stomach. But years later, the stomach starts to expand and some patients regain the weight they lost.

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Sure You Can Track Your Health Data, But Can Your Doctor Use It?

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 23:32

People use wearable gadgets and phone apps to monitor their health — everything from calories consumed to medication taken. But all that data doesn't necessarily translate into better health care.

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Shots Fired Near Vice President's Delaware Home, Biden Wasn't There

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 21:35

Someone fired multiple gunshots from a vehicle near Vice President Joe Biden's home in Wilmington, Del., Saturday night, according to the U.S. Secret Service.

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Smoke Got In His Eyes And Inspired A New Kind Of Lamp

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 19:59

As a boy in Kenya, Evans Wadongo struggled to do his homework by the light of kerosene and firewood. Now he has designed a solar-charged lamp made of scrap metal for sub-Saharan Africa.

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From Wax Cylinders To Records, Saving The Sounds Of History

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 16:44

Many of the items in The British Library's vast collection of recorded sound are in danger of disappearing. Some just physically won't last much longer; others are stored in long-dead formats.

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U.Va. Ushers In New Year With Updated Rules For Frat Parties

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 13:19

After Rolling Stone reported, then hedged on a story of gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house, U.Va. administrators announced new rules for parties for the upcoming year.

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Calif. Strike Highlights Larger Issues With Mental Health System

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 12:57

This past week, more than 2,000 mental health workers for health care giant Kaiser Permanente went on strike. Organizers say Kaiser's "chronic failure" to provide timely, quality care hurts patients.

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Broken Promises On Display At Native American Treaties Exhibit

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 12:57

A rare exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian explores the history of treaties between Native American nations and the U.S.

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Delegation Of Congressional Democrats Visits Cuba

NPR News - Sun, 2015-01-18 11:26

The group of four senators and two congressional representatives will meet with members of the Cuban government in hopes of enhancing cooperation between the long-time adversaries.

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