National News

Chicago Conference Is The Latest In Tech Sexism Hall Of Shame

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 07:28

Creating another sore spot for an industry under scrutiny for lack of inclusiveness, Techweek Chicago sends out a party invite featuring scantily clad women in provocative poses, then apologizes.

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PODCAST: The $32 Billion Sprint/T-Mobile merger

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 07:19

More on the European Central Bank's moves to avoid deflation. Plus, with Sprint potentially buying T-Mobile for as much as $32 Billion, a look at the pros and cons of the possible merger. Last up, a new study shows how vocal fry can negatively affect men, and especially women when applying for jobs.

In A First For Britain, A Secret Trial For Terrorism Suspects

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 06:45

The trial, due to begin June 16, involves two men whose names and alleged offenses are being kept under wraps. U.K. media are calling it a "casting aside of the centuries-old doctrine of open courts."

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Riding 'The Beast' Across Mexico To The U.S. Border

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 06:44

As many as a half-million undocumented immigrants, including more and more children, make dangerous 1,450-mile trips atop this network of freight trains each year.

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Sprint and T-Mobile eyeing $32 billion merger

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 06:20
Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 09:07 JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

A T-Mobile logo hangs under pink umbrellas 

Sprint and T-Mobile, the nation’s third and fourth largest wireless phone operators, may have agreed on a pricetag for merging, according to early reports.

Turns out, sometimes three + four = $32 billion.

That’s how much Sprint could pay to acquire T-Mobile, a merger that would continue a wave of telecom and media consolidation. So how would that affect consumers?

Canalys analyst Chris Jones says T-Mobile has attracted millions of customers in the last year, “with an uncarrier strategy: taking away early termination fees, having zero down on a new phone, and having free international roaming.”

Jones says that if Sprint and T-Mobile become a more dominant carrier, those aggressive incentives might go away.

But Angelo Zino, an equity analyst with S&P Capital IQ, thinks a combined Sprint/T-Mobile would be a lot more competitive on pricing, given the economies of scale.

“That’s gonna put additional pressure on both AT&T and Verizon,” he says. “And that bodes well, we think for customers.”

Zino says price competitiveness could help the merger survive the scrutiny of federal regulators, who now have several potential megadeals on their plates. 

Marketplace Morning Report for Thursday June 5, 2014by Kate DavidsonPodcast Title Sprint and T-Mobile eyeing $32 billion mergerStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Body Found Miles From Sunken South Korean Ferry

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 06:16

Nearly two months after the disaster in South Korea, the death toll now stands at 289 and 15 people are still unaccounted for.

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Sprint and T-Mobile eyeing $32 billion merger

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 06:07

Sprint and T-Mobile, the nation’s third and fourth largest wireless phone operators, may have agreed on a pricetag for merging, according to early reports.

Turns out, sometimes three + four = $32 billion.

That’s how much Sprint could pay to acquire T-Mobile, a merger that would continue a wave of telecom and media consolidation. So how would that affect consumers?

Canalys analyst Chris Jones says T-Mobile has attracted millions of customers in the last year, “with an uncarrier strategy: taking away early termination fees, having zero down on a new phone, and having free international roaming.”

Jones says that if Sprint and T-Mobile become a more dominant carrier, those aggressive incentives might go away.

But Angelo Zino, an equity analyst with S&P Capital IQ, thinks a combined Sprint/T-Mobile would be a lot more competitive on pricing, given the economies of scale.

“That’s gonna put additional pressure on both AT&T and Verizon,” he says. “And that bodes well, we think for customers.”

Zino says price competitiveness could help the merger survive the scrutiny of federal regulators, who now have several potential megadeals on their plates. 

The number 2,000: Economic lessons from Brazil

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 05:39

You know I'm a sovereign debt geek, so my number would be 2,000. That's the spread over Treasuries, in basis points, of Brazil's sovereign debt in 2002.

Which — OK! I know that's super-geeky and hard to explain. But let me try!

Back in 2002, Brazil had just elected a leftist president, Lula, and it was right next door to a bona fide basket case, Argentina. It had a lot of short-term debt maturing very soon, and no easy way to roll that debt over, since the capital markets were pretty much closed. (No one trusted Lula.) So in a self-fulfilling prophecy, the markets started pricing in a massive default on Brazilian debt.

What that meant in practice was that you could buy a Brazilian bond — any bond — and its yield would be more than 20 percentage points higher than the yield you could get on a U.S. Treasury bond with the same maturity. Not 20 percent higher, 20 percentage points higher. So if the Treasury bond was yielding 5 percent, the Brazilian bond wouldn't yield 6 percent, it would yield 25 percent.

At the time, no country had ever seen its debt trade at 2,000 basis points over Treasuries without defaulting, and it's easy to see why. At those levels, you can't refinance your debt as it comes due, which means that you have no choice but to default on it.

Except, Brazil proved the exception to the rule. Lula was fiscally conservative, and he appointed a George Soros aide, Arminio Fraga, to run the central bank. Between them, Lula and Fraga managed to muddle through the crisis and get Brazil's debt back onto a sustainable footing. And anybody who bought Brazilian debt in the summer of 2002 ended up making an absolute fortune. (The person who bought the most, and who made the biggest profits? Mohamed El-Erian, then of Pimco, later of Harvard, and later still of Pimco, again.)

I learned a huge amount from this episode. Firstly, and most importantly, just because something has never happened before, doesn't mean it's impossible. Secondly, sovereign debt can be even more volatile and risky than stocks — and provide even bigger profits. Thirdly, policymakers can make an enormous difference. And fourthly, markets aren't always rational, or correct: there's a wisdom of crowds, to be sure, but it has its limits.

So the next time you see a country's debt trading at 2,000 basis points over Treasuries, and you hear me saying that default is inevitable, remind me that I said exactly the same thing back in 2002. And I was wrong then.

GM Review Found 'History Of Failures' In Ignition Switch Debacle, CEO Says

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 05:24

Saying an internal inquiry into a long-delayed recall left her "deeply saddened and disturbed," GM CEO Mary Barra says the company has fired 15 people in response to the report.

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The Birds And The Bees ... And iPads

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 05:03

Three-fourths of parents say the Internet is forcing them to have "the talk" earlier.

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Baseball Man Don Zimmer Dies, Ending An Epic Sports Career

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 04:59

His big-league career began in the 1950s and included the most recent Yankees dynasty. Baseball is mourning Don Zimmer today, remembering a man who loved the game that loved him back.

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Central African Republic Bans Texting, Citing Need For Order

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 04:53

The poor country has been plagued by political turmoil and Muslim-Christian fighting. The government cut off texting amid a new round of violent protests and calls for a general strike.

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When does an American company stop being American?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 04:51

It's a fairly common practice among big corporations in the U.S. to keep large portions of their business outside of the country in order to avoid paying American taxes. The process of corporate inversion is usually practiced by companies that earn large amounts of foreign income that is already taxed overseas, though critics say this can cost the U.S. substantial tax revenues they would otherwise receive from American companies.

But if a company that still does business in the U.S. moves operations, or even its headquarters, outside of the U.S., is it still an American company?

The Fortune 500 doesn't think so -- companies that move headquarters outside the U.S. get kicked off their list. On the other hand, the S&P 500 does not remove American companies with overseas headquarters. Allen Sloan, Fortune Magazine's senior editor, thinks his publication has it right.

"The Fortune 500 is supposed to be a list of American companies, and if you decide not to be an American company, we kick you out of the list," Sloan says. "These are companies that want to benefit from the United States, they would just rather have their headquarters in a country where the tax rate is lower."

Though, defining a company's "Americanness" by where they keep their headquarters is a little tricky. After all, Apple and General Electric both hold high ranking spots on Fortune's list, but both companies keep profits overseas and avoid American taxes. Sloan's argument is that location makes a lot of difference, even if just in attitude.

"If you take your headquarters out of the United States, you aren't an American company," says Sloan, "We can argue about degrees about a lot of these companies, but at least they're still acting as if they're Americans and they have some responsibility to the country, whereas these other guys who go overseas, well they want all the protections, they just don't want to pay for them."

In the bigger picture, the law usually catches up to companies using overseas holdings to avoid taxes, forcing them to come up with ever more complicated methods of not paying. The question becomes whether or not there is a way to simplify the tax system and stay fair, or are we stuck with a endless cycle that keeps getting more complicated?

"I don't know how to do it, but I know what's going on is not right," Sloan says. "Having a situation where a company does this or that and is not an American company, but wants to keep all the benefits of being an American company, like having a real legal system, having actual markets that function, you ought to pay for it."

When does an American company stop being American?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 04:51

It's a fairly common practice among big corporations in the U.S. to keep large portions of their business outside of the country in order to avoid paying American taxes. The process of corporate inversion is usually practiced by companies that earn large amounts of foreign income that is already taxed overseas, though critics say this can cost the U.S. substantial tax revenues they would otherwise receive from American companies.

But if a company that still does business in the U.S. moves operations, or even its headquarters, outside of the U.S., is it still an American company?

The Fortune 500 doesn't think so -- companies that move headquarters outside the U.S. get kicked off their list. On the other hand, the S&P 500 does not remove American companies with overseas headquarters. Allen Sloan, Fortune Magazine's senior editor, thinks his publication has it right.

"The Fortune 500 is supposed to be a list of American companies, and if you decide not to be an American company, we kick you out of the list," Sloan says. "These are companies that want to benefit from the United States, they would just rather have their headquarters in a country where the tax rate is lower."

Though, defining a company's "Americanness" by where they keep their headquarters is a little tricky. After all, Apple and General Electric both hold high ranking spots on Fortune's list, but both companies keep profits overseas and avoid American taxes. Sloan's argument is that location makes a lot of difference, even if just in attitude.

"If you take your headquarters out of the United States, you aren't an American company," says Sloan, "We can argue about degrees about a lot of these companies, but at least they're still acting as if they're Americans and they have some responsibility to the country, whereas these other guys who go overseas, well they want all the protections, they just don't want to pay for them."

In the bigger picture, the law usually catches up to companies using overseas holdings to avoid taxes, forcing them to come up with ever more complicated methods of not paying. The question becomes whether or not there is a way to simplify the tax system and stay fair, or are we stuck with a endless cycle that keeps getting more complicated?

"I don't know how to do it, but I know what's going on is not right," Sloan says. "Having a situation where a company does this or that and is not an American company, but wants to keep all the benefits of being an American company, like having a real legal system, having actual markets that function, you ought to pay for it."

Torture tested guitar strings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 04:30

Making strings is a family business for the D'Addarios. In fact, Jim D'Addario, CEO of D'Addario and Company, remembers being a 13 when his dad first started asking him to test guitar string prototypes while watching television. 

Since taking over the company, D'Addario has made it a point to innovate the technology involved in making newer, better guitar strings. That's how the company's more durable NYXL strings came to be. The technology behind the new strings starts with the wire:

Here's host Ben Johnson with Jim D'Addario getting a chance to feel the wire for himself:

Part of the process of developing the NYXL strings has been, well, torturing them: stretching them beyond their normal capacity and then using a robotic arm to continuously strum the warped string.

As the saying goes, the proof is in the...broken strings? The average string lasts just a couple of strokes against the torture machine, while the NYXL strings can last upwards of 1,000 strums while still staying in tune.

Torture tested guitar strings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 04:30

Making strings is a family business for the D'Addarios. In fact, Jim D'Addario, CEO of D'Addario and Company, remembers being a 13 when his dad first started asking him to test guitar string prototypes while watching television. 

Since taking over the company, D'Addario has made it a point to innovate the technology involved in making newer, better guitar strings. That's how the company's more durable NYXL strings came to be. The technology behind the new strings starts with the wire:

Here's host Ben Johnson with Jim D'Addario getting a chance to feel the wire for himself:

Part of the process of developing the NYXL strings has been, well, torturing them: stretching them beyond their normal capacity and then using a robotic arm to continuously strum the warped string.

As the saying goes, the proof is in the...broken strings? The average string lasts just a couple of strokes against the torture machine, while the NYXL strings can last upwards of 1,000 strums while still staying in tune.

A Master's In Media...From Conde Nast?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 04:03

Architectural Digest, Wired, Vogue, Gourmet...why a magazine brand is getting into the education business.

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Is vocal fry hurting women's job prospects?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 03:48

A new set of data suggests that vocal fry -- or vocal creakiness -- could negatively impact female job applicants. The study, published by the online journal PLOS, played samples of male and female subjects speaking in both a normal voice and with vocal fry. Participants were then surveyed as to which candidates they found to be more suitable to hire for a job. 

While a preference for a normal speaking voice was nearly equally matched for both men and women -- results show a preference for a normal voice 86 percent of the time for female speakers and 83 percent of the time for male speakers -- those surveyed reacted more negatively to women with vocal fry than men.

Olga Khazan, who covered the topic for The Atlantic, joins Marketplace's Mark Garrison to discuss the study and its implications for women in the workplace. Click on the audio player above to hear more.

Do you prefer a normal voice or fry voice? Click below to hear the vocal samples from the study:

 

Is vocal fry hurting women's job prospects?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-05 03:48

A new set of data suggests that vocal fry -- or vocal creakiness -- could negatively impact female job applicants. The study, published by the online journal PLOS, played samples of male and female subjects speaking in both a normal voice and with vocal fry. Participants were then surveyed as to which candidates they found to be more suitable to hire for a job. 

While a preference for a normal speaking voice was nearly equally matched for both men and women -- results show a preference for a normal voice 86 percent of the time for female speakers and 83 percent of the time for male speakers -- those surveyed reacted more negatively to women with vocal fry than men.

Olga Khazan, who covered the topic for The Atlantic, joins Marketplace's Mark Garrison to discuss the study and its implications for women in the workplace. Click on the audio player above to hear more.

Do you prefer a normal voice or fry voice? Click below to hear the vocal samples from the study:

 

Cave-Dwelling In Spain Offers A Welcome Inconvenience

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-05 03:48

In the province of Granada in Southern Spain, thousands of people live completely unplugged in caverns. The caves have been a place of refuge for centuries. Now they provide a new kind of escape.

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