National News

2,000 Buses Of Visitors: Rome Braces For Canonization Crowds

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 11:04

Millions of pilgrims are expected Sunday for the joint canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Rome is cleaning up, and preparing everything from first aid stands to portable toilets.

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Georgia Law OKs Guns In Schools, Churches

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 10:50

The Safe Carry Protection Act, known to critics as the "Guns Everywhere Bill," was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal. It is considered among the most permissive such measures in the country.

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Milwaukee locals want to bring Pabst back

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 10:43

Back in the day, Milwaukee was known as the Beer Capital of the World. But if there were ever a beer that truly represents the city, local Susie Seidelman says Pabst Blue Ribbon is it.

"Pabst is from Milwaukee, and so much of the brands authenticity, its draw, its appeal, its marketing has to do with Milwaukee," she says. "It’s right on the can, it’s all over the website, all over the promotional material. We really made this beer what it is."

Seidelman is part of a Facebook group called “Milwaukee Should Own Pabst Blue Ribbon”. It has more than 4,000 members.

Pabst might have been born in Milwaukee, but for the last four years it’s been headquartered in Los Angeles. It’s owned by investor C. Dean Metropolis. He’s the guy responsible for bringing Twinkies back.

The Pabst brand is worth a lot of money—anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion. Seidelman says coming up with that kind of cash would take a lot of people willing to part with their money.

“We would have the brewery be community owned by the city of Milwaukee, we would put the call out to hundreds of thousands if not millions of investors asking for small support in the form of purchased share.”

Local business owners like Jim Haertel are rallying around the movement. He has a special interest in Pabst.

“We have their former corporate offices. We have Captain Pabst’s old office, even his roll top desk, which we would gladly save for the president.”

Haertel says he had to fight to save many of the old industrial brick buildings at Pabst headquarters. He even opened a bar in one. He says he has space to accommodate the new Pabst if it comes back to Milwaukee.

“Pabst is certainly the first of the great Milwaukee brewers, Schlitz would share some of that fame. The two of them really duked it out over the years,” Haertel says.

But now Pabst owns Schlitzand Blatz and brands like Colt 45. And the company does all this without even brewing its own beer; it pays MillerCoors to do that. But Pabst does have one thing going for it.

“Pabst is still the largest American owned brewery," says Jim Kupferschmidt, who owns the Milwaukee Beer Museum.

He says that’s because MillerCoors and Anheuser Busch are both now owned by foreign beer makers. He says there’s a good reason beer companies are buying out competitors: “You want as much shelf space on the liquor store and in the tavern as you can possibly get.”

As for Milwaukee’s push to bring Pabst back, Susie Seidelman says she knows it’s a bit of a pipedream. But she says it’s not about the beer. In fact, she doesn’t even drink Pabst: “I’m more of a Miller High Life person myself.”

Seidelman says Pabst never should have left. She says this is about righting a wrong.

In Lawsuit, American Muslims Claim FBI Used No-Fly List To Bully Them

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 10:33

The four men claim they were approached by FBI agents to become informants. When they declined, they say they were put on the no-fly list.

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This is an office, not a jungle gym!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 10:15

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up April 24:

Did you buy a dishwasher in March? The Commerce Department reports on orders for appliances and other durable goods.

It's Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Not a parent? Maybe it's Get Away From Your Coworkers' Kids and Take a Really Long Lunch Day.

If you're in Iceland you probably have time off to celebrate the first day of summer on Thursday. It's a public holiday.

Actress Shirley MacLaine turns 80.

And the focus is on traveling far. Really far. A three-day Humans to Mars Summit wraps at George Washington University.

Judge OKs WikiLeaker Manning's Name Change To 'Chelsea'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 10:13

The ex-U.S. Army intelligence analyst formerly known as Bradley Manning, made the request to reflect a change in gender identity.

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China And Beyond: NPR's Frank Langfitt Answers Redditors' Questions

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 09:34

From his base in Shanghai, Frank Langfitt covers everything from the missing Malaysian airliner to why the Chinese are wild about Sherlock. Ask him anything at 3:15 p.m. EDT today at Reddit.

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After Bitter Split, Palestinian Factions Pledge To Reconcile

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 09:11

The Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas say they will attempt to form a unity government and end a seven-year rift. Previous efforts to resolve their feud have failed.

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Amazon Prime scoops up some of HBO's hottest titles

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 09:00

Popular HBO shows like "The Wire" and "Big Love" will be available on Amazon Prime Instant Video soon. It’s the first time HBO has made its shows available to an online-only subscription streaming service.

While HBO shows like "The Sopranos" and "The Wire" have been highly coveted by streaming video companies, HBO has been reluctant to license them. In part, that’s because HBO didn’t want to cannibalize it’s cable TV business, said Paul Sweeney, an analyst with Bloomberg Industries.

“The reason they’re licensing their streaming content now is simply a realization that more and more consumers particularly younger consumers are online,” Sweeney said. “I think HBO said, ‘Listen we need to be part of that business.’”

The network isn’t giving Amazon new episodes of shows like"Game of Thrones." And not all titles -- like "Sex in the City" -- will be available on Amazon Prime. Regardless, this is a big win for Amazon in its competition with Netflix, said Brad Adgate, an analyst at Horizon Media.  

“This gives Amazon a real shot in the arm and I think Internet streaming video is going to be the next product category war,” Adgate said. He adds the deal get more people to adopt of Internet TV. 

Weekly Innovation: An Inflatable Car Seat That Comes In A Backpack

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 08:53

Parents, you are going to want to read about this prototype from Volvo. It's fully inflatable and designed to make what's normally a clunky and heavy seat both lighter and more portable.

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NFL + Hollywood = cash money

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 08:40

The Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor announced a big merger last December with the sports marketing firm IMG Worldwide.

IMG represents NFL stars, NBA players, World Cup skiiers and baseball players with multi-million dollar contracts.

"They've had to go out and raise $2.5 billion to finance this deal," says Sharon Waxman, the founder and editor-in-chief of entertainment site The Wrap, who has seen some new details about the merger. "This very ambitious acquisition of theirs of IMG -- which is the largest sports talent and events agency in the world -- is very much the minnow swallowing the whale."

Also revealed in the paperwork behind the deal? After the financing of this merger, WME will have some considerable debt racked up. They'll have to diversify their operations and find new revenue streams  to grow their company. Waxman says agencies are putting a larger emphasis on events, signing athletes, and representing corporations.

And to drive even more cash flow into the company to help fund the debt, Waxman says WME may decide to go public -- which would be a big break from tradition.

"That would be very interesting to watch. Who wants to buy those shares, who wants to own a piece of a Hollywood talent agency. That's not been something that's been available to the investor public out there before."

Music That Burns, Literally

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 08:33

Take Beyonce. Take Sinatra. Take whomever you love and set them on fire. They call it a "Pyro Board," and it plays music by pulsing the beats in flame. When the singer hits a high note — stand back.

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Obama Assures Japan Of U.S. Security Commitment

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 08:25

The president is on the first stop in an eight-day trip to Asia that also will see him visit Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea.

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Bake Bread Like A Pioneer In Appalachia ... With No Yeast

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 08:21

Bacteria can make a bread rise and give it a cheesy flavor. That's the secret ingredient in salt rising bread, which dates to the late 1700s in Appalachia, when bakers didn't have yeast on hand.

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What deflation is and why it's the worst dog ever

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 08:13

You've probably heard about inflation, when prices rise for the goods and services you buy. But how much do you know about its evil cousin, deflation.

Deflation is when the average level of prices start to fall throughout the economy.

In order to explain, we will use Econodog, a small white Coton de Tulear, courtesy of Precious Pets in Manhattan, to play the role of the economy as we walk through the city.

Precious Pets NYC

Econodog the Coton de Tulear helps us understand deflation

Like the economy, Econodog is responsible for pulling us along.

As we begin our walk, Econodog is giddy with joy. He is enthralled by cigarette butts and pigeons, and starts pulling very hard. In fact, Econodog is pulling so hard that he becomes inflationary. Inflation, of course, is when prices are rising. It happens when money is moving too fast and the economy is becoming hyperactive and flush with cash. People borrow, buy, and push up prices.

For Econodog, we pull back on the leash. For the economy in real life, the Federal Reserve does the same thing. It has a leash for money. That leash is called interest rates. The Federal Reserve will raise those rates if the economy pulls too hard. If borrowing becomes more expensive, people will think twice about throwing their money around, and they stop driving up prices.

As our walk progresses, a malaise befalls Econodog. Perhaps our walk has persisted for too long, or perhaps the rejection by the birds was too much to bear. Either way, at the corner of 51st and 2nd Ave, Econodog has become deflationary. He has stopped. He will not pull us anywhere.

Look at him. Those eyes.

Cute, yes?

WRONG. HE’S NOT CUTE. DEFLATION IS NOT CUTE.*

While you might think that things getting cheaper in an economy is good, deflation is secretly vicious**.

DEFLATION BITES

When prices fall, it’s usually when an economy is weak. Unemployment is persistent, so you find workers willing to work for lower wages. If you're a business, that's small comfort because the weak economy also means people aren't buying your stuff. So you offer price cuts to get people to buy. So prices start to fall.

And here are Econodog’s hidden fangs: "When prices start to fall, people realize prices are falling. Then they realize it's better to spend money tomorrow, when things are cheaper, than spend money today," explains economist Justin Wolfers. So people start to spend less. Which contributes to weak demand that caused the deflation to begin with. "It's self perpetuating; deflation leads to lower growth leads to deflation leads to lower growth.  It’s a deflationary spiral."

IT’S DISOBEDIENT

And unfortunately, we can’t use the leash like we could when Econodog was being INflationary. When Econodog is deflationary, he is being unruly in the opposite direction. He isn’t moving too fast and pulling too hard, he's just sitting there. Sluggish. Like a furry lump. Very frustrating: if we want Econodog to pull us along, he needs to move. But pulling on the leash won’t help. Neither shaking the leash nor throwing it will work. The dog won’t move.

That's deflation. Money is moving slowly, prices are falling, not rising. You can relax the leash as much as you want. In the case of the Federal Reserve, that means you can give as much slack as you can on interest rates, taking them down to near zero. But sometimes things are bad enough that this doesn't make the economy move. There's an expression for this – "you can't push with a string," or in this case, a leash.

YOU MUST PLAY MIND GAMES WITH IT

So there we are, on the corner of 2nd and 51st, Econodog has come to a halt. Trainer Bernadette Ambrosioni has an idea. We are near Econodog's home, so we look towards home and tell Econodog that we are going home.

Wanna go home? Wanna go home? Let’s go home!

Now that Econodog's expectations are that the walk is over and we are going home, he becomes excited and starts moving again and is joyous once more.

"Shifting expectations can be a great way of solving deflation," says Wolfers. Seriously!

Yes, when it comes to the real economy, you have to fix the underlying problem of a slow growth, but you also have to change people’s minds.

The reason is that if people expect deflation, they cause deflation. Remember, if people expect things to be cheaper in the future, they put off purchases. As a result people start to spend less, which further causes deflation. Spend less, economy shrinks, prices fall, spend less. That's the vicious cycle.

So, you change people’s expectations. You tell them you're printing money, you tell them you're going to create inflation, lower interest rates, and stimulate the economy. In fact, this is exactly what Japan is in the middle of doing.

How does this actually work? Wolfers says think of it from a business owner's perspective. "If you can convince shopkeepers that you want to bring inflation back to the economy, then they'll expect competitors will raise their prices tomorrow, therefore there's no reason for me to cut my prices today."

And, ideally, people would start spending today instead of waiting for tomorrow.

Japan dealt with deflation for more than a decade and is only now fully exiting that trap. Europe is straddling on the edge, and the U.S. is just one percentage point above deflation territory. Many economists are predicting we'll pull up just in time, but for now, the possibility is nipping at our heels.

* He's actually very cute.

** In real life this dog is adorable and we love him and he is not vicious.

A Path Out Of Prison For Low-Level, Nonviolent Drug Offenders

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 07:56

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that federal inmates serving long sentences for drug offenses will be eligible to apply for clemency if they meet six major criteria.

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American Journalist Kidnapped By Ukraine's Pro-Russia Insurgents

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 07:55

The reporter for Vice News was seized by gunmen on Tuesday but is "fine," according to a spokeswoman for his kidnappers.

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PODCAST: Is Apple the new Microsoft?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 07:38

Apple is expected to report mostly flat revenues from a year ago, when it releases earnings after the bell Wednesday. It wasn’t so long ago, of course, that Apple’s stock was a rocket ship, seeing the kind of exponential growth you find in tiny startups. Another tech company used to be like that: Microsoft. 

David Einhorn, a pretty big name among activist investors, made headlines yesterday with his “bubble basket” and for saying that there’s now a consensus that there’s a tech bubble.

Hollywood is no longer the go-to place for shooting feature films and TV shows. Just eight percent of big budget Hollywood films were made in LA in 2013, down from 65 percent in 1997. And from 2005 to 2013, California's share of one-hour TV series dropped from 64 percent to 28 percent. 

 

 

Is there another tech bubble on the verge of bursting?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 07:16

David Einhorn, a pretty big name among activist investors, made headlines yesterday with his “bubble basket” and for saying that there’s now a consensus that there’s a tech bubble. 

Activists investors buy a large chunk of stock in a company with the goal of pressuring management to make changes. At the Active-Passive Investor Summit in New York, Einhorn said his “bubble basket” is a group of stocks he’s shorting, or betting that the price will go down. While he didn’t name companies, we can assume there are tech stocks in that basket. Einhorn is betting that some stocks might fall by as much as 90 percent.  

Activists investors also raised bigger issues. Jeff Ubben, a notable west coast hedge fund investor, called into question executive compensation at the tech companies. He singled out Google’s Eric Schmidt and his $100 million pay package in 2011, which Ubben thought was outsized. Ubben noted that same year, JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon was “hauled over the coals” for getting paid $20 million.

The tech companies haven’t responded to the criticism but upshot from the summit was that tech companies need to be put under more scrutiny. 

 

The Joys Of Spoiling

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 07:13

In the Internet Age, spoilsports abound, What would drive someone to ruin it for everyone else?

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