National News

Help Wanted: The Philippines Needs More Exorcists

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 12:31

The Office of Exorcism reports an sharp increase in cases over the past decade — more than its five-man team can handle. Warning: It's a high-stress job. The priests believe the demons strike back.

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Shake Shack's rise from burger stand to billions

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-30 12:10

It started as a way to raise money for a public park. When the Madison Square Park Conservancy debuted its first art installation “I ♥ Taxi,” two restaurateurs from Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park decided to open the hot dog stand that would become Shake Shack. 

Randy Garutti, Shake Shack's CEO, says the food was immediately popular. "All of a sudden, 50 people lined up, 100 people lined up, the hot dog cart became this unbelievable thing in New York," says Garutti. "For three years, we ran that hot dog cart, as the park started to come back to life — all the money we made went to the park — and the city said to us, 'Why don't we create a little kiosk over here, 400 square feet?' And we named it Shake Shack, thinking we'd sell a couple hot dogs."

Garutti and Shake Shack co-founder sold way more than a couple hot dogs, and when Shake Shack introduced its ShackBurger to that first kiosk in 2004, a legend was born. Customers have been known to wait in long, snaking lines for close to an hour waiting for burgers. And Shake Shack has expanded from a hole in the wall into 70 worldwide locations, with outposts in the U.K., Middle East and Russia.


This growth shows no signs of slowing. This year Shake Shack made its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange and was valued at $21 per share. That number has tripled since then, with even higher peaks in the interim. The company says it plans to build only 450 locations, but investors are already predicting bigger expansion. 

Already, a single Shake Shack location is worth $50 million, compared to $10 million for a Chipotle, or $3 million for McDonald's. Shake Shack's high-quality ingredients and fast-casual (Garutti prefers "fine casual") atmosphere put it in line with current trends in dining. 

"It's all about the experience," Garutti says, "every one of us had that roadside burger stand in our home town. What was that about? It was about going there with your mom, with your date, with your buddies ... for every reason you would go to that place, it was the community gathering place. That's what Shake Shack gave the world back, and if you look at what fast food did over 50 years, they actually did the opposite."

Garutti says that it's the Shake Shack team's backgrounds that makes the restaurant so unique. "Our culinary director came from Gramercy Tavern. Some of our ops team are fine dining guys," Garutti says, "and we combine that with people who've worked in much bigger and sometimes public companies ... that tension is what makes Shake Shack what it is."

Transforming from a fundraising project for the park into the valuable franchise that the New York Times dubbed "the anti-chain-chain" wasn't part of the original plan for Garutti and his team, but as Shake Shack's popularity soared, transitioning gracefully into its role as a chain became crucial to the restaurant's success. 

"Chain can sometimes be a four letter word, and the way we've changed that is to say: Why couldn't every link in the chain make the chain actually stronger, and why couldn't every link be a little different, and be thoughtful and be built for that community, not happen to its community," Garutti says. "That's what we've tried to do and that's what makes a chain of us even stronger every time we add one. "

The original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, New York.

Tobin Low/Marketplace

Garutti says as long as there's demand, Shake Shack will keep opening new locations, but he insists he's capping things at 450, for the sake of his own team. Regardless of how many Shake Shacks there are, it's important to Garutti not to dilute the brand, to continue to be a gathering place known for quality and cool. 

Garutti is known for saying "the bigger we get, the smaller we need to act." That's why Shake Shack uses high-quality ingredients, collaborating with local companies like Mast Brothers ("the coolest, most innovative chocolate makers in Brooklyn," says Garutti) and Kreuz Market in Austin.   

"The next generation of millennials and younger care where their food's coming from. They require more, and they will only be a part of a brand whose ethos we share," Garutti says, "those are the people who are choosing to a place like Shake Shack every day."

"We grew up in Silicon Alley in New York City when Twitter, Facebook, everything was growing and happening, and you think about it now, wherever I go, I want to take out my phone and I want to share where I am, all the time, with everyone in the world.... People are proud to say, 'I'm at Shake Shack today.'"

Meet The California Family That Has Made Health Policy Its Business

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 11:37

On Medicare's 50th birthday, two brothers who helped get it off the ground tell their stories. A younger member of the Lee family is at the helm of Covered California, the state insurance exchange.

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50 years of Medicare, by the numbers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-30 11:22

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law 50 years ago Thursday, subsidizing health care for millions of seniors, low-income families and people with disabilities. Both programs were highly controversial and have undergone many changes over the past half-century, and today they cover about a third of all Americans, according to the Associated Press. Let's do the numbers:

July 30, 1965

The official signing ceremony in Independence, Missouri, at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. The Kaiser Family Foundation notes that Truman, an advocate for expanded health care during his presidency, was the first person to enroll. Coverage would begin about a year later.

55 million

That's about how many people are covered by Medicare, according to the federal government, starting from just over 19 million in 1966.

71.6 million

That's how many Americans are enrolled in Medicaid, including 75 percent of children living under the poverty line and 64 percent of people living in nursing homes.

$505 billion

Total Medicare spending in fiscal year 2014, or about 14 percent of the total federal budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office. After a slowdown this decade, spending is expected to accelerate through 2024, when spending is projected to reach $866 billion.

July 2, 1964

The date Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, a little more than a year before Medicare. NPR points out the administration used one act to help the other: Hospitals that discriminated were in danger of losing federal dollars, and thousands desegregated as a result.

Experts: MH370 Debris Could Have Reached Western Indian Ocean

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 11:05

An scientist who studies ocean circulation patterns tells NPR that it's "highly likely" that floating wreckage from the airliner could have reached the island of Reunion near Madagascar.

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#TBT: 40 Years After Jimmy Hoffa's Disappearance, His Legend Lives On

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 11:02

Forty years ago today, Hoffa pulled into a restaurant parking lot and was never heard from again. His story is one of union devotion, fraud and fierce political battles.

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Md. Governor Orders Closure Of 'Deplorable' Baltimore City Jail

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 10:59

A 2013 investigation resulted in the indictment of "25 people — including 13 women working as corrections officers" on racketeering and drug charges. Nearly 20 more faced other charges.

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Coffee Art: When A Spill Turns Into A Masterpiece

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 10:39

Ever splashed yourself with coffee? Then you know its staining powers. But where some see a ruined shirt, others have found a canvas.

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Scientists Urge Ban On Salamander Imports To U.S. To Keep Fungus At Bay

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 10:03

The chytrid fungus has wiped out populations of amphibians around the world. A type of the fungus infects only salamanders, and researchers have identified vulnerable areas in North America.

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For Young Voters, Crushing Student Debt Is Front And Center

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 09:58

Megan Brabec, 24, works three part time jobs with no benefits. "It does really frustrate me when I hear candidates talk about, 'Oh, well, you should have majored in something else," she said.

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Randy Garutti on Shake Shack's 'accidental' start

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-30 09:06

Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti hops in line with Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal at the restaurant’s original location in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park to talk about how the company evolved from a hot dog cart into a publicly traded international company with more than 70 locations.

Obama Orders Development Of Supercomputer To Rival China's 'Milky Way'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 08:18

It is hoped that the new supercomputer, expected to go online by 2025, would be the first to "exascale" machine — some 20 times faster than today's fastest machine.

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Justice Dept. Hires Compliance Expert In Fight Against Corporate Crime

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 08:16

The department says the new expert will play a big role in determining whether businesses targeted for prosecution have engaged in systemic misconduct or whether the criminal activity is limited.

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3 U.Va. Graduates Sue 'Rolling Stone,' Reporter Over Rape Article

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 08:03

News of the lawsuit by former Phi Kappa Psi members comes along with word that Rolling Stone's managing editor, Will Dana, has resigned.

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How A Beauty Queen With Diabetes Found Her 'Sugar Linings'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 08:02

She didn't know that sporting an insulin pump on her bikini at a beauty pageant would make her an Internet sensation. Sierra Sandison is trying to use that to help others with Type 1 diabetes.

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How To Convince Teen Girls To Stay Away From Sugar Daddies

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 07:09

In Botswana, girls often think an older guy is a great boyfriend. They believe he's less likely to have HIV than a teenager. Plus, he's flush with cash. 'Sugar-daddy classes' are changing their minds.

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Taliban Acknowledge Death Of Leader, Select Successor

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 06:30

Sources within the extremist organization confirmed the death of Mullah Omar, who reportedly died in 2013. A gathering of the group's leaders has chosen Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as his successor.

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University Of Cincinnati Officer Pleads Not Guilty To Murder Charge

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 06:17

A judge said because Ray Tensing faces a potential life-in-prison sentence, she was setting his bail at $1 million.

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'Top Gear' Team Signs Deal With Amazon; New Car Show Set For 2016

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 06:02

The trio left the BBC under a cloud, after Jeremy Clarkson's contract was not renewed because of a physical and verbal attack on a show producer.

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Testing By AP Finds Water At 2016 Olympic Sites 'Rife With Human Sewage'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-30 03:43

The AP commissioned tests over a five month period. Experts who reviewed the results found that not a single venue is fit for swimming or even boating.

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