National News

Will Jack Ma’s quirkiness play in the U.S.?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-19 09:35

There’s no two ways about it. 

Jack Ma is a quirky guy.

From dressing up like Lady Gaga, to belting out the "Lion King" theme song, to revealing on CNBC that his hero is, the decidedly fictional, Forrest Gump.

Jack Ma is Jack Ma. 

And Jack Ma is not the buttoned up (or turtle-necked up) CEO that we’re accustomed to.

But don’t let his antics fool you.

"Everyone seems to underestimate Jack Ma," says Porter Erisman, former Alibaba VP and director of the documentary 'Crocodile in in the Yangtze.'

He calls Jack Ma "incredibly  innovative, very visionary."

Ma is also ambitious. And to achieve his goal of reaching an audience outside of China, some think he'll need to tone his antics down a bit.

"The particular quirky flamboyance that he has historically displayed seems to sell very well there," says Max Wolff, an economist at Manhattan Venture Partners, which helped institutional investors get Alibaba shares. "It won't sell quite as well for a global audience."

But Ma’s flash doesn't seem to be scaring off investors today. Even though the company is set up in such a way that Ma will be in control, not shareholders.

Alibaba Shares Surge On First Day Of Trading

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 09:32

Shares of the Chinese e-commerce giant opened at $92.70 a share on the New York Stock Exchange today, making it the biggest initial public offering in U.S. history. They were priced at $68 a share.

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Thousands line up to exchange Ray Rice jersey

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-19 08:43

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had a press conference today. He said, again, that he's sorry he handled the Ray Rice incident the way he did, that the NFL will do all it can to assist groups that fight domestic violence and that he hasn't thought about resigning.

But on a day when Apple fans lined up by the thousands to get their hands on the iPhone 6, so too did Ravens fans line up at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Also by the thousands.

To trade in their No. 27 Ray Rice jerseys.

This is not a line for the new #iPhone! Thousands line up to exchange @ravens #RayRice jersey at #M&TBankStadium

— Kelly Blanco (@KellyNBC6) September 19, 2014

Iconic Pabst Beer Brands Sold To Russian Company

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 08:33

Pabst Brewing Co., with its famous Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee and Schlitz labels, is being acquired by Russian brewer Oasis Beverages for an undisclosed sum.

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How To Get Children To Behave Without Hitting Them

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 08:21

Most parents say they have used corporal punishment. But there's abundant evidence that it doesn't improve behavior over time. Changing how parents talk to children does work, but it takes practice.

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'Murdersquishing' Them To Death: How Little Bees Take On Enormous Hornets

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 07:53

They are small. They are weak. They are vulnerable. But these little bees take on a humongous predator in the most ingenious way.

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India's Modi Calls Al-Qaida's Plans For His Country 'Delusional'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 07:49

The Indian prime minister, in an interview, called his country's Muslims patriots. The remarks are his most forthcoming on India's Muslims, many of whom doubted his commitment to religious minorities.

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The numbers for September 19, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-19 07:39

Alibaba founder Jack Ma is having a great morning. After a record-breaking IPO, the Chinese e-commerce company began trading Friday at $92.70, the New York Times reported. That price values the company at more than $228.5 billion.

While we calculate just how much human hair you could buy with that, here are some other stories we're reading — and numbers we're watching — Friday.

55 percent

In a much more decisive vote than expected, the majority of Scots elected to keep the country in the United Kingdom overnight Friday. The full results show a huge turnout, and the BBC reported that the vote has resonated around the world, from secessionists in Spain to state media in China. 


That's the number of people killed annually by issues stemming form antibiotic-resistance. The White House launched a new initiative to combat the public health threat Thursday, the Times reported, with a $20 million prize for the development of a better resistance test and a suggested $1.7 billion in funding for research and other initiatives.

$400 million

In an unprecedented sponsorship deal, Microsoft reportedly paid the NFL $400 million to get hundreds of its Surface tablets on the sidelines and in coaches booths for the next several seasons. But the Los Angeles Times reported that announcers keep accidentally calling the tablets "iPads," showing just how much Microsoft's key rival owns the tablet industry.

Debate: Should Schools Embrace The Common Core?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 07:17

The Common Core has arguably become the most contentious issue in American education. Experts face off over the new state standards in the latest Intelligence Squared debate.

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The risks and rewards of Alibaba's IPO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-19 06:54

Alibaba ticks two boxes that get investors very excited: China and technology.

That has investors “salivating,” says Steven Davidoff Solomon, a professor at University of California Berkeley School of Law.

The massive Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba will start trading on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, using the ticker “BABA.” Shares will start at $68, the top of the company’s price range.

There are more people and companies interested in buying stock than there are shares available, but some experts advise caution.

Davidoff Solomon says investors should be aware that the deal is structured in such a way that they’re actually buying into a Cayman Islands company that will receive profits from Alibaba.

“Let’s say that Alibaba China decides just not to pay on those profits,” he explains. “Shareholders would have to sue a Cayman Islands company, gain control of it, and have that Cayman Islands company sue in China. Good luck with that.”

Second, a small group of insiders will retain control of the company and appoint directors, even though they’ll own a small percentage of its shares.

The question then is whether the price is worth these risks.

Matt Turlip, an analyst with PrivCo, has done his own valuation and thinks Alibaba’s shares are actually worth $100 each.

“It’s a giant, profitable company right now that’s growing like a startup still,” says Turlip.

So buy or buyer beware – you decide.

Iran's 'Happy' Dancers Receive Suspended Sentences

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 06:44

Seven young Iranians were arrested in May for producing their own version of the Pharrell Williams song "Happy." Iranian authorities said the video, which went viral, offended public morals.

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Around The World In 8 Hospital Meals

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 06:14

From tasty tempura to gross gruel, hospital meals across the globe vary wildly. Highbrow institutions in China and India have long served top-notch food. U.S. hospitals are starting to follow suit.

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Scotland's Vote Could Bring Big Changes To England, Wales, N. Ireland

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 06:11

British Prime Minister David Cameron says now that voters in Scotland have rejected independence, he is committed to giving more powers not only to Scotland, but also to the rest of the U.K.

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Why 'Is Corporal Punishment Abuse?' Is Such A Loaded Question

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 06:03

An NFL star's indictment on child abuse charges has reignited a national debate about parents using corporal punishment. But how people feel about this issue is tied to some very personal questions.

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Fla. Man Kills 6 Grandchildren, Daughter Before Suicide

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 05:05

The shooter, Don Spirit, 51, had done time in prison on firearms violations in connection with the shooting death of his 8-year-old son during a 2001 hunting accident.

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French Jets Conduct First Airstrikes Against ISIS In Iraq

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 04:27

President Francois Hollande says the Rafale fighters "entirely destroyed" a logistics depot. His office said more air operations against Islamic State militants would be conducted in coming days.

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As Scotland Rejects Independence, Cameron Promises More Autonomy

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-19 03:08

At final count, the "no" votes won by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. The British prime minister said it had settled the question "for a generation."

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PODCAST: The nuance of inflation

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-19 03:00

We have screens at the ready here to watch what happens when stock in the massive Chinese online commerce operation, Alibaba, starts trading in New York. Shares will start at $68, the top of the company's range. But while many investors are eagerly diving in, others are advising caution. Plus, as we've been hearing, the Scots have voted to stay with the United Kingdom, and this--among other things--has a bearing on interest rates. And as Marketplace celebrates its 25th birthday this year, we are looking at the surprising, sometimes delightful and sometimes destructive ways that prices have changed during that quarter century. Last week, we heard a classical definition of inflation from the Harvard professor who literally wrote the textbook definition. But price changes have many causes and can effect people with varying incomes quite differently. Today, we talk to Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

Weekend Brunch: AliBaba's IPO and the Fed's new normal

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-19 02:12

Venessa Wong from Bloomberg and Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson chat about the week's news. Click play above to hear them break down the Federal Reserve's latest decision and the AliBaba IPO.

Brunch reading list:

Bloomberg: 3 Photos That Help Explain the Frenzy Over Alibaba's IPO

Businessweek: I Used Alibaba to Make 280 Pairs of Brightly Colored Pants

CNBC: Fed will end QE next month, 'considerable time' remains

Washington Post: Federal Reserve details new exit strategy, keeps record-low rate




Want to sell a house? Head West. Want to buy? Go East.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-19 02:00

Online real estate site Zillow released a study on Friday that listed the markets for sellers and buyers in the United States. 

Stan Humphries, Zillow's chief economist said the lists show an east/west divide.  

Most of the best markets for sellers, says Humphries, are on the West Coast. Markets like San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle top the list. Most of the cities that favor buyers are in the east and midwest. 

"Markets like Providence, Cleveland and Philadelphia. And it’s not necessarily by historical standards that they’re bad markets," Humphries said. 

He said home prices in many of the buyers' markets haven’t risen as sharply, but that also means that when the market slows, home prices won’t crash as hard.

Kevin Hamilton knows all about seller’s markets. He’s with Red Oak Realty in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"You know a lot people think realtors are really excited about this hot market, and truthfully we’re not," he said. 

Hamilton said right now, buyers are offering way too much for houses. While responsible realtors advise against such irrational behavior, he said, when the market slows and prices crash, clients don’t remember.

"Everyone kinda came back and said, 'Why did you tell me to buy this?'" Hamilton said. "You know, well, if you looked back at that day, we didn’t."


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