National News

Cities rethink their future by looking to the past

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-26 02:00

Places that used to be industrial powerhouses have lately shot for a tech angle in their branding, jockeying to be labeled the next Silicon Valley. But increasingly, regions are rethinking their futures by looking to their past.

Ariella Cohen, editor-in-chief of a non-profit online publication called Next City, thinks it's a good thing. In a recent article titled, "Cleveland Wants to Make Sure the Next Wright Brothers Come From the Rust Belt," Cohen argues that moving forward can be about realizing what you're not.

"I think people are beginning to recognize that they're not Silicon anything," she says. Cohen points out that the legacy of manufacturing and the infrastructure that still exists in cities like Cleveland and Detroit make them more suitable for an industry that makes things.

"In all these cases, what's really important is that the business community is talking with the universities," she adds. Youngstown, OH, for example, has a community college that has built a makers' studio. The studio, in turn, provides job opportunities and training.

Click the media player above to hear more.

The tool kit for negotiating with Iran

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-26 02:00

Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Vienna for more nuclear negotiations with Iran. The deadline for a deal is June 30. 

Kerry has lots of tools at his disposal as he works with U.S. allies to convince Iran to curb its nuclear program. The sharpest tool is sanctions, which have taken a huge bite out of Iran’s oil exports. Iran still exports some oil to a handful of countries, but oil payments can’t go through Western banks. 

Gary Sick was on the National Security Council under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan. He estimates Iran is owed around $40 billion.

“It’s their money," he says. "They were paid that money to sell oil to these countries, but they can’t get their money.” 

Sick says Iran is definitely feeling the pinch, because the U.S. and allies in Europe, as well as China and Russia, support the sanctions. But that support could wither if Iran found a way to avoid Western banks, say some analysts.

“Presumably, the Iranians would sell their oil at a discount over the global price," says Jon Alterman, a senior vice president with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "And if you could save $6 a barrel buying Iranian oil, there are people who’d say there’s a lot of money in that.”

Alterman says the sooner a nuclear agreement is reached with Iran, the better.



Facebook still lacking in diversity

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-26 02:00

That's how the Supreme Court voted in its ruling to extend the rights of marriage to same-sex couples on Friday morning. As more and more people suddenly have the ability to say "I do," it's worth checking out how to think about unions when it comes to tax time, Bloomberg reports. 


That's how much Uber racked up in fines after its illegal launch in Portland late last year. The ride-sharing company also paid about that much in lobbying in the past six months, a modest sum for Uber, which doled out millions nationwide last year. A Bloomberg report cites Portland, where Uber is now legal, as an example of the company's influence among users and its deep bench of lobbyists to make sure city's ride-sharing regulations are compatible with Uber.

55 percent

That's the percentage of Facebook's employees who are white. That's only down 2 percent from the 57 percent shown in its last diversity report. This after the company vowed to address its lack of diversity in its hiring. In fact, as The Guardian reports, only seven black employees were hired according to Facebook's most recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filing in 2013. That's out of the 1,231 employees hired that year.

$10 million a year

That's reportedly how much U.S. Bank will pay to name the Minnesota Vikings stadium. And that's for the next 20 years. Why so much money just to have your name on a sports arena? The NFL is the most popular sports league in America, and money can't buy that kind of exposure. Well, it can ... it just costs a whole lot.

Sandwich-maker finds Greek debt hard to stomach

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-26 02:00

When Greek-born, U.S.-educated Nick Voglis came back to Athens and opened his food business in 1996, he had big plans to launch a new product on the Greek market: the gourmet sandwich.

“Back then, most of the sandwiches on sale in this country were very unhealthy and unappetizing,” he says. "No vegetables or salads inside — just cream cheese, bacon or hot dogs.” 

Drawing on his long experience of living abroad, Voglis decided to open a deli bar selling haute cuisine sandwiches — made-to-order — using home-made French-style baguettes and only the finest and freshest ingredients. His dream was to expand the business into a franchise.

It didn’t quite work out like that.

“We still have only the one store. At our peak in 2007, we had 7 employees. Now we’re down to one part-time worker. And sales are down 40 to 50 percent,” Voglis says.

His business has failed to prosper in spite of his intelligence, energy, enthusiasm, attention to detail and the excellence of his sandwiches. He blames Greek bureaucracy, an unpredictable tax system and the economic crisis for the lack of growth in the business. Some of his opinions may prove a little hard for his fellow Greeks to stomach.

On his country’s debt crisis: “It’s happened because Greeks felt all their lives that somebody else will pay for them.”

On Greece’s membership of the Eurozone: "We want to be part of a club without implementing the rules of the club.”

On Greece’s public sector: "It’s a major monster which has killed this country.”

On Greece’s creditors: “They want to make an example of us. And they’re right.”

In spite of this scathing assessment, Voglis wouldn’t dream of shutting up shop and leaving his  country.

“I’m a very proud Greek. I love this place. And I think it’s very sad what’s taken place here,” he says. 

Jen Hyman on Rent the Runway's "dream fulfillment"

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-26 01:58

Jen Hyman started Rent the Runway right out of business school, and the young entrepreneur says she never dreamed she would be the boss of 250 employees and serve four million customers, let alone run the largest dry-cleaning facility in America.

Jack Dorsey of Square on what he's learned as CEO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-26 01:57

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and co-founder of Twitter, sits down with Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal to discuss Square, his life since Twitter and what the future holds for a visionary that many have called “the next Steve Jobs.”

A new podcast from Marketplace and Quartz: Actuality

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-26 01:00

Welcome to the golden age of audio. The world has (re)discovered podcasting. And for us, the real lesson of the post-Serial boomlet isn't that podcasts are great — they've been great for a while! — but that people actually care what reporters do before the story gets written or recorded. Which is to say, we always knew you cared about the murder mystery, but we didn't know that you cared about how we try to report it.

It’s with this in mind that we’re excited to bring you Actuality, a bi-monthly podcast jointly produced with our friends at Quartz. We’re friends because, frankly, we like to come at stories in some similar ways — finding the accessible and conversational in those stories that used to wither and die on the business pages of serious publications.

Some of the best things that happen in a newsroom are the conversations between journalists before and after the story gets published. An audio product is so much more visceral and immediate: the best way to recreate the moment when someone leans over from the next desk and says, "get a load of this story." We’re also bringing people connected to the story — experts and participants — into every conversation we have, to point out when we are wrong (and vice-versa).

So, every other week, we'll endeavor to bring you into a new story about the global economy and plug you into the conversation behind the news. Marketplace and Quartz try not to take ourselves too seriously, and we hope you find the podcast both informative and entertaining.

Actuality seemed like the perfect name for it; it’s what those of us in the audio business call the clips of tape from interviews that go into our stories. Those, and other “pops” of sound, will give us a nice starting point for many of our discussions.

But where those conversations go from there will surprise you, just like the word "actuality," for its earlier meaning: things as they really are, not as we expect them to be.

Marketplace and Quartz are committed to finding new ways to bring news about the changing world to our audiences in whatever medium they prefer. We hope our podcast will combine the best of Quartz's digital journalism with Marketplace's award-winning radio broadcasts in a mix that brings you the best of our sensibilities as journalists — and our curiosity about the world and what makes it run.

You can subscribe to Actuality here

A Showdown Looms At South Korea's Gay Pride Parade

NPR News - Fri, 2015-06-26 01:00

In Seoul, a gay pride parade that's gone on for 15 years is at the heart of a bitter standoff between organizers and Christian activists. Church groups threaten to stop the parade, in the name of God.

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Polio Is Active In Only 3 Countries. Soon It Could Be Down To 2

NPR News - Fri, 2015-06-26 00:58

Nigeria is one of three places where polio is still a problem. But there hasn't been a case in almost a year. So Africa is on the verge of being polio-free.

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A Baltimore Civil Rights Icon Is Still Pushing To Help City's Young

NPR News - Fri, 2015-06-26 00:57

Sixty years ago, Helena Hicks helped desegregate the city's lunch counters. The 80-year-old has continued to advocate for Baltimore's poor, black residents — in the wake of the Freddie Gray incident.

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The Devil Wears Nada

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-26 00:52

This week, Actuality slips on metallic jeggings to examine the dubious record of former American Apparel CEO Dov Charney, how jerk bosses thwart business success, and why women get tasked to clean up the mess. Plus, the best time to buy German erotica.

Not So Happy Hour For Beck's

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-25 18:12

A class action suit charged the brewer hid its true roots, in St.Louis. A court agrees and orders payments to customers — larger ones ones to people who kept receipts.

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Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns Is No. 1 NBA Draft Pick

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-25 16:28

Towns was widely expected to be chosen first. He and the other top two picks each played only one season in college.

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Univision Cuts Ties With Trump After Comments About Immigrants

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-25 16:12

Unvision is severing its relationship with Donald Trump following Trump's comments during his presidential announcement speech that immigrants from Mexico were 'rapists,' among other things.

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Supreme Court Thwarts Efforts To Put Obamacare On Life Support

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-25 14:58

Thursday's court ruling upheld subsidies nationwide under the Affordable Care Act. And unlike the court's previous Obamacare ruling, the majority was unified and the tone was broad.

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Lawmakers Put Brakes On Resolution To Ban Mississippi Flag From Capitol

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-25 14:02

The measure, proposed by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, would authorize the removal of that state's flag on the House side of the Capitol complex.

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Oxford English Dictionary Adds New Words, Offers Clarity On Old Ones

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-25 13:58

The OED unveils some modern coinage and explains a Supreme Court justice's choice of words.

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Farewell, Low-Fat: Why Scientists Applaud Lifting A Ban On Fat

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-25 13:58

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report that came out in February contained some pretty game-changing advice that's largely been overlooked: Don't worry about the total amount of fat you eat.

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U.S. Army Begins Training Ukrainian Soldiers

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-25 13:50

The U.S. won't give the Ukrainian army lethal weapons to fight Russian-backed rebels, but it has sent 300 trainers to help the beleaguered, bedraggled Ukrainian military.

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Federal plan to rate colleges fizzles

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-06-25 13:00

After a long wait and an earful from critics, the Obama Administration has scaled back its plans to rate colleges on measures like how much money students earn after they graduate, and how much debt those students take on. Instead, education officials plan to put out a website later this summer, and let consumers compare colleges on their own.

You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief on college campuses.

“Today’s announcement gives us optimism,” says Marvin Krislov, president of Oberlin College. “We still want to see what it looks like, but we think the government’s going in the right direction and we’re encouraged by that.”

After putting colleges “on notice” in his State of the Union speech in 2012, President Obama has backed away from plans to punish colleges that fail to keep costs down for students. The original proposal was not only to rate colleges on value, but to cut off federal dollars to those that didn’t measure up.

“We think the ultimate accountability is a kind of public accountability that’s created by a marketplace of really good information,” says Ted Mitchell, U.S. Under Secretary of Education.

He wouldn’t say exactly what information the new consumer tool will provide. According to a "framework" proposed late last year, possible metrics include employment and earnings data, as well as graduation rates. A lot of information on costs and graduation rates is already out there, on the department’s College Navigator website and a newer tool called the College Scorecard.

Rachel Fishman, with the New America Foundation, has been studying how students make college decisions. In a recent survey she shared with Marketplace, just 16 percent of students said they’d ever used those websites.

“There’s no guarantee that the students that are most vulnerable in their decision-making and who don’t have enough good information to make that decision are actually going to find a website from the Department of Education useful,” Fishman says.

Mitchell said the Department plans to do outreach so students know about the new tool. It’ll also share its data, whatever that turns out to be, so that others can experiment with how to present it. The federal government isn’t exactly known for its user-friendly websites.

Without some sort of ratings attached, the value of the new site could be limited, says Kim Clark, who writes about education for Money Magazine, where she developed her own college value rankings.

“Most people don’t think about this stuff all day like I do, and they don’t know which numbers they should be looking at,” she says. “Without expert guidance, all of these extra numbers might just be more noise and more confusion.”

Then again, she says, there’s a whole college rankings industry out there that profits from giving that kind of guidance. With this new data, she says, those rankings might get better.