National News

Gun Rights Outweigh Gun Control In New Pew Survey

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 15:57

For the first time in at least 20 years, significantly more Americans say it's more important to protect the right to own guns than to control gun ownership, according to a Pew survey.

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For More Drinking With Less Buzzing, Session Beers Gain Fans

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 14:14

Light beer doesn't have to mean less flavor. A growing trend is offering another option. Session beers emphasize craft-beer taste with alcohol as low or lower than big-brand light beers.

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Stocks Are Battered As Oil Hits Another 5-Year Low

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 14:02

Oil prices have fallen 40 percent over the past six months. OPEC, which is holding production levels steady, said today it expected lower global demand for oil next year.

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Why Police Departments Have A Hard Time Recruiting Blacks

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 13:59

Since the Ferguson shooting, there have been renewed calls for police departments to hire more blacks and other minorities. But recruiters say there's a shortage of willing candidates.

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From Potatoes To Salty Fries In School: Congress Tweaks Food Rules

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 13:41

The giant federal spending bill that's expected to go to a vote Thursday will give schools some flexibility in implementing nutrition standards. Also a winner: the potato lobby.

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BET founder Bob Johnson wants a Rooney Rule for business

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-10 13:36

Bob Johnson, the first black billionaire and founder of BET,  has an idea for how to diversify the workplace: use the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires interviewing minorities for football production jobs.

Don't most big companies already have best-practice rules to encourage diversity? "The companies say they do it, they have a commitment to do it," Johnson says, "but unfortunately, the results don't turn up in terms of the numbers yet." 

Johnson believes that there are countless talented, qualified minority Americans who aren't getting an open door. "If the minority meets the qualifications, they should be given every opportunity to be hired," he says. 

But how do companies get managers to broaden the applicant pool? According to Johnson, the boss has to be on board.

"It takes a commitment from the top, and the top being the CEO ... and then of course the members of the Board of Directors."

 

Some Deportees Return To Mexico But Their Stuff Stays In The U.S.

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 13:25

A new report says thousands of people are being deported without their belongings, money or ID. And that's creating even more hardship for Mexican migrants when they return home.

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Brazil's Tearful President Praises Report On Abuses Of A Dictatorship

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 13:19

The 2,000-page document bring to light a history of torture, executions and disappearances during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship. An amnesty law means no one has been punished for their role.

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Watch: Navy Ship Uses Energy Weapon In Arabian Gulf

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 13:08

The U.S. Navy says it made a "historic leap" by deploying a laser weapon system for the first time. A video shows the system, based on the USS Ponce in the Arabian Gulf, taking target practice.

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Boredom On The Border Between Liberia And Guinea

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 13:06

To stop the spread of Ebola, Liberia shut down its border crossings to Guinea. That might have been wise from a medical point of view, but it's bad for the economy — and the restless residents.

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Uber's Troubles Mount Even As Its Value Grows

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 12:57

The attorneys general of San Francisco and Los Angeles counties are accusing the ride-sharing service of misrepresenting its background checks on drivers. It comes amid a rash of bad news for Uber.

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Debate: Should We Genetically Modify Food?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 12:56

Many crops we eat today are the product of genetic modifications that happen in a lab, not in nature. Scientists and consumers are divided how cautious we need to be about these foods.

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Making The Human Condition Computable

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 12:56

Technological advances are make it easier for you and your doctor to track your health and to find treatments for complex diseases. But the technology may prove costly and there are privacy pitfalls.

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Nick Denton Steps Down As Gawker's President

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 11:52

But he will remain CEO of the media company that he built, and be part of a seven-member managing partnership. He said he wanted to spend more time blogging.

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At climate change meeting, poor countries step forward

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-10 11:01

A two-week U.N. conference on climate change is nearing its end in Lima, Peru. The summit tees up a big theme for further negotiations in Paris next year: Make an offer.

Countries will likely make individual pledges to take action, instead of negotiating a global treaty with requirements. In a big change from prior negotiations, historically poor nations have started offering pledges of their own. The trend started with China's agreement with the United States, announced last month.

"The way the paradigm has been laid out for the last 20 years, developing countries – China included – really don't have to take actions or make commitments," said Ray Kopp, a senior fellow at the think tank Resources for the Future, from Lima. Now poorer countries are seeing evidence that they should participate, too.

 

BMW sponsors a series of articles about ... BMWs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-10 11:00

BMW has partnered with the website Medium for a series of sponsored posts explaining how the car company's design process works.

One article focuses on the acoustics of the door closing on the new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. The person at BMW responsible for perfecting the new door-closing sound profile, Florian Frank, has an actual title: "Specialist for noise, vibration and harshness."

Click the audio player above to hear what the door sounds like before and after the acoustic engineers got their hands on it.

I couldn't tell the difference either.

All-Christmas music stations make money. Lots of it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-10 11:00

Even before Thanksgiving, more than 100 radio stations across the country have switched to an increasingly popular format: all Christmas music, all the time. 

And that switch to 24/7 Christmas music is coming increasingly earlier in the season, even as early as before Halloween for a handful  of stations, including WVEZ in Louisville, Kentucky. 

"It’s actually a strategic move, in terms of how our radio stations are rated,” says Shane Collins, program director at WVEZ. “We gain tremendous amount of total audience. There are occasions where the audience will increase as much as 40 to 50 percent.”

Across the country, in the top 50 media markets, the combined audience for radio stations playing Christmas music more than doubles during the listening season, according to Nielsen Audio, which provides ratings for radio stations. Last year on Thanksgiving, the stations had a combined daily audience of 12.3 million listeners. By Christmas Eve, the audience peaked at 28.6 million. 

By playing Christmas music starting in October, instead of December, Collins hugely expands his listening audience for two extra months, he says. That means he can charge higher rates for advertising on his station. 

Little wonder then that stations across the country are elbowing each other to be known as the Christmas music station in their cities. Jon Miller of Nielsen Audio says that’s why stations are switching earlier in the season every year, as they try to become the Christmas music leader. 

“That’s kind of a cat and mouse game of who’s going to go first,” Miller says. “There’s not room for four or five stations to do it in every market … and get really big ratings…. Whoever owns the position tends to benefit the most.” 

By the end of the year, some 500 stations will have made the switch, according to Nielsen. Radio industry consultant Jim Richards says the phenomenon picked up steam only in the last 10 years or so. And at first, he says, stations were cautious. 

“We started doing it ... over Thanksgiving holidays … certainly the start of the Christmas shopping season happens there, and ... we weren’t interrupting our normal listening habits,” Richards says. 

Stations were worried that unhappy listeners might abandon their station forever, says Richards. But that’s not what’s happened over the years. 

“The phenomenon of this whole thing is that for the most part, come the second week of January of the third week of January, the listener's patterns of radio usage pretty much return to normal,” Richards says.

That all-Christmas music station makes money. Lots of it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-10 11:00

Even before Thanksgiving, more than 100 radio stations across the country have switched to an increasingly popular format: all Christmas music, all the time. 

And that switch to 24/7 Christmas music is coming increasingly earlier in the season, even as early as before Halloween for a handful  of stations, including WVEZ in Louisville, Kentucky. 

"It’s actually a strategic move, in terms of how our radio stations are rated,” says Shane Collins, program director at WVEZ. “We gain tremendous amount of total audience. There are occasions where the audience will increase as much as 40 to 50 percent.”

Across the country, in the top 50 media markets, the combined audience for radio stations playing Christmas music more than doubles during the listening season, according to Nielsen Audio, which provides ratings for radio stations. Last year on Thanksgiving, the stations had a combined daily audience of 12.3 million listeners. By Christmas Eve, the audience peaked at 28.6 million. 

By playing Christmas music starting in October, instead of December, Collins hugely expands his listening audience for two extra months, he says. That means he can charge higher rates for advertising on his station. 

Little wonder then that stations across the country are elbowing each other to be known as the Christmas music station in their cities. Jon Miller of Nielsen Audio says that’s why stations are switching earlier in the season every year, as they try to become the Christmas music leader. 

“That’s kind of a cat and mouse game of who’s going to go first,” Miller says. “There’s not room for four or five stations to do it in every market … and get really big ratings…. Whoever owns the position tends to benefit the most.” 

By the end of the year, some 500 stations will have made the switch, according to Nielsen. Radio industry consultant Jim Richards says the phenomenon picked up steam only in the last 10 years or so. And at first, he says, stations were cautious. 

“We started doing it ... over Thanksgiving holidays … certainly the start of the Christmas shopping season happens there, and ... we weren’t interrupting our normal listening habits,” Richards says. 

Stations were worried that unhappy listeners might abandon their station forever, says Richards. But that’s not what’s happened over the years. 

“The phenomenon of this whole thing is that for the most part, come the second week of January of the third week of January, the listener's patterns of radio usage pretty much return to normal,” Richards says.

Uber needs to say more than 'I'm sorry'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-10 11:00

Funny how the tables can turn. Uber was once tracking customers to see how many were doing the walk of shame. But now it’s the one looking like a hot mess.  

“When you think about brands, really people judge them the exact same way that you judge people,"says Alyson Schonholz, group director of strategy and insights at strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale. Uber could start cleaning up its reputation by admitting its mistakes, she says, but what it really needs to do is change its business practices so the same problems don’t happen again.

Consider the case of gas and oil giant BP, when it faced a PR crisis a few years ago. 

“They decided to shift their brand from British Petroleum to BP and they launched a new logo that was much more friendly and in tune with environment. But that just became lipstick on pig," said Schonholz.  "There were no real actions behind it that showed people that they were a different kind of company. And people are smarter than that. And they expect more from their brands. So to just apologize alone isn’t going to be enough for Uber."

In some ways Uber is like a little kid sitting at the adult’s table for the first time. But no one’s taught it table manners yet — which fork to use or trained company executives to deal with the media or with a crisis. “What is obvious about Uber is that they don’t have a crisis-management strategy in place — at all,” said Brad Hecht, chief research officer at Reputation Institute. 

"You have to respond immediately. You have to be transparent," he said. You have to apologize and be accountable and you have to have a plan for how you’re looking to resolve it.”

When it comes to reputation, it's not really about the problem, it’s about how a company reacts.

Just look at Home Depot and Target. In the past year, both companies found they'd been the victims of data breaches. Target executives had a delayed response, didn’t fully admit to what the problem was or offer a plan to resolve it, Hecht says. But Home Depot immediately apologized and put a plan in place to provide a fix. The result were visible — in both company's stock prices.

"Really Home Depot just ended up having small blip, while Target’s dropped significantly," Hecht says.

In a blog post, Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick says the company's growth has come with growing pains. And acknowledging its mistakes are the first steps toward fixing them. 

"Done right, it will lead to a smarter and more humble company that sets new standards in data privacy, gives back more to the cities we serve and defines and refines our company culture effectively," Kalanick wrote.

Peter Himler, founder of PR firm Flatiron Communications, says Uber needs help.

"I’m not sure that Uber has been as contrite and earnest as they could be," he said.  But he says, luckily for the company, it has some powerful backers in its corner who stood up for Uber during some of its its recent problems. For instance, investors Ashton Kutcher and Jason Calacanis both have huge social media following and have expressed support for Uber, Himler says.

And while Uber may be feeling growing pains, the company is continuing to grow.

Uber's valutation is in the multibillions and the company has a firm grip globally, Himler says.

"They're making billions, I believe, around the world," he said. "So, there’s no stopping them at this point — even with these gaffes they’re going to prevail."

Why The President Wants To Give Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Toddlers

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-10 10:56

Today's White House summit on early education highlights public and philanthropic partnerships to support high-quality learning opportunities for young children.

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