National News

Walgreens to get bigger and go global

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-29 02:00

Walgreens—the biggest drugstore chain in the U.S.—is poised to become the biggest drugstore chain on the planet. Shareholders approved the final stage of a merger with European drugstore chain Alliance Boots by a 97 percent margin at a company shareholder meeting Monday morning.

All told, the merger is worth more than $21 billion. In a 2012 deal, Walgreens acquired 45 percent of Alliance Boots. The remaining 55 percent tranche of the deal went forward in mid-2014, and following shareholder approval, it will close on December 31. Executives from Alliance Boots will be in significant leadership positions in the merged company.

Alliance Boots has more than 4,500 stores across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Walgreens has more than 8,000 stores in the U.S. But, according to retail consultant Burt Flickinger of the Strategic Resource Group, Walgreens has weaker discount-programs and worse-performing stores than its rivals and it has lost ground in the domestic market.

“This merger really allows Walgreens-Alliance Boots to pole vault past CVS or anyone else in global competition,” says Flickinger.

Meanwhile, Walgreens could benefit from some of Boots’ higher-end European offerings, says John Palizza, a retired business professor and former Walgreens executive who still owns shares in the company.

“Some of Boots' private-label is very high quality,” says Palizza. “Here in the U.S., when you see private label you typically to think, ‘Well, this is second tier.’”

Selling more premium store-brands could help Walgreens, says Palizza, since it’s the items that fill the aisles in the front of the store—groceries, household supplies, health-and-beauty products—that increasingly drive drugstore profits.

Staying ahead of the curve on cyberthreats

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-29 02:00

When hackers are increasingly organized and effective, what can a government do to protect citizens? Investing in open security architecture may be one option.

Transcript: President Obama's Full NPR Interview

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 01:02

Steve Inskeep's wide-ranging interview with President Obama covers recent executive actions on Cuba and immigration, race relations in the U.S., health care and extending democracy in the Middle East.

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Obama Finds Reset Button With 2 Years To Go: Is It Too Late?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 01:01

The president knows he was once regarded as having limitless promise, and realizes as well how disappointed many of his acolytes have been.

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Despite Election Defeat, Obama Sees Room To Push His Agenda

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 01:00

President Obama begins his administration's final phase the way he began several others: recovering from disaster, in this case the loss of the Senate. He's striving to show he won't be a lame duck.

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First Survivors Rescued From Burning Greek Ferry Arrive In Italy

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-29 00:50

Some 150 people remained trapped on the smoke-filled vessel adrift in frigid temperatures and rough seas between Italy and Albania.

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Teaching Friends And Family How To Reverse A Drug Overdose

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 23:36

Quick treatment with Narcan can save a life after an overdose of heroin or opioid pain pills. The year 2014 saw more cops, drug users and their families carrying Narcan "rescue kits."

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Ladies Lead Whiskey Renaissance As Distillers And New Tipplers

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 23:16

Whiskey was long considered a man's drink. But as sales of whiskey soar, it's women who are leading the new boom, thanks to a vanguard of female distillers, blenders and tasters.

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Road Salt Contributes To Toxic Chemical Levels In Streams

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 22:39

One of the primary tools that U.S. transportation departments count on to keep roads safe is road salt. But that's meant rising levels of chloride in many northern streams.

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Search Resumes For Missing AirAsia Flight With 162 Aboard

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 15:07

Flight QZ8501, traveling from Indonesia to Singapore, lost contact with air traffic control Sunday morning. The search for the plane was suspended for the night, but resumed at dawn.

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Saved By A Bad Taste, The Last 'Radium Girl' Dies At 107

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 13:36

In the 1920s, working-class women were hired to paint radium onto glowing watch dials — and told to sharpen the brush with their lips. Most died within a few years, but Mae Keane quit, and survived.

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Remembering The Pioneering Audiologist Who Tested Hearing At Birth

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 13:22

Until the early '90s, young children often weren't tested for hearing loss until they had already missed out on a critical period for learning language. Dr. Marion Downs was determined to change that.

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Pope John Paul II's Would-Be Assassin Lays Roses At His Tomb

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 11:53

In 1981, Mehmet Ali Ağca shot the pontiff twice at close range as the pope's open motorcade passed through St. Peter's Square. He was jailed for three decades before his release in 2010.

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Thousands Of Motorists Stranded By Snow In French Alps

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 10:44

People have been unable to move for two days due to heavy snow and ice on the road to and from major ski resorts in the Savoie region.

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Which World Leader Had The Best And The Worst Year In 2014?

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 09:51

Vladimir Putin got off to a great start, then it all turned sour. Bashar Assad looks to be better positioned today than back in January. Perhaps the pope had the best year of all.

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Iranian General Reportedly Killed By ISIS Sniper In Northern Iraq

NPR News - Sun, 2014-12-28 07:36

Brigadier Gen. Hamid Taqavi, a veteran of the brutal Iran-Iraq was in the 1980s, was killed while training Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen, Iran says.

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