National News

The new growth engine for airports: cargo

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-25 02:00

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport holds the honor of “world’s busiest” when it comes to passengers. But it doesn’t crack the top 30 in terms of cargo; something Louisville, Anchorage, and Indianapolis all do.

Airport officials, and even Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, want to change that. But it’s not necessarily an easy proposition. Nor is it a sexy one, admits Ilona Zimmer, a coordinator for Lufthansa Cargo.

Inside the German airline’s cargo warehouse at Hartsfield-Jackson, Zimmer watches as a pair of forklifts lift pallets onto storage shelves. 

“I would say machinery parts and, at the moment, textiles, make up the majority of shipments coming in," Zimmer says.

Come fall, Zimmer says case after case of French Beaujolais will take up most shelf space.   

Activity inside the warehouse is constant, but Hartsfield Jackson general manager Miguel Southwell wants to see more. Lots more.

“We have some work to do,” he admits.  

The traditional cargo market is stagnant, so the airport is building facilities to go after a different sector. Their interested in perishable goods, like pharmaceuticals and fresh flowers. That will help revenues.

But Southwell says all the focus on cargo is really about employment.  

“The main purpose of an airport is to be any community’s chief jobs driver,” he says. “That’s why an airport exists.”

But airports are limited in what they can do to attract new cargo, says Enno Osinga. He’s in charge of cargo operations at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, and Vice Chair of Vice-Chair of The International Air Cargo Association.

“An airport, if you look at it unkindly, is a bit of concrete. It’s got runways. It’s got aprons,” Osinga says. “They’re all the same.”

The key to bolstering cargo operations, Osinga says, is to convince industry to build nearby.

Atlanta’s doing that.

It’s also constructing more cargo warehouses on-site.

And to sweeten the pot further, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson is offering a few million dollars in incentives for new cargo service. 

Murdered Voting Advocate's Brother Wants Protections Back

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 01:04

David Goodman says last year the Supreme Court gutted the civil rights law that Andrew Goodman and other Freedom Summer activists gave their lives for.

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Murdered Voting Advocate's Brother Wants Protections Back

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 01:04

David Goodman says last year the Supreme Court gutted the civil rights law that Andrew Goodman and other Freedom Summer activists gave their lives for.

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Google addresses the white male culture of tech

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-25 01:00

Google kicks off its big developer conference Wednesday. Less than a month after admitting it has a diversity problem, the company is taking measures to address the white male culture of the tech world. Google committed $50 million to a project called Made With Code, meant to inspire girls to get into coding.

Education is crucial, says Alaina Percival, who heads the group Women Who Code. But she says tech culture also contributes to the problem, like when industry people talk about hiring, say, a new iOS specialist.

“They’ll say, oh we need a great iOS guy,” Percival says -- not a great iOS person.

“Little things like that, that happen over and over again, that if you complained about any one of them, you would sound crazy,” she adds.

Lisa Cook is an economist at Michigan State University who researches the participation of women and minorities in the basic research and commercialization of inventions. She points out that culture plays into recruitment as well. Cook says people tend to recruit from the schools and labs they themselves experienced. The problem is that those social networks might leave out places like historically black colleges and universities.

“While HBCUs are responsible for a declining number of bachelor’s degrees, they’re responsible for an increasing number of STEM graduates,” she says.

Cook says those are the places that recruiters who want to increase diversity should target.

The business opportunity that is climate change

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-25 01:00

Climate change is a business opportunity.

There. I said it. Also? It's true. And kind of a paradox.

Global warming's been a bit buzzy this week, what with former Treasury Secretary — and current Republican — Henry Paulson in the New York Times this past weekend coming out in favor of a tax on carbon as the best way to control global warming, and a report from Paulson and others laying out the economic risks of climate change (Although, honestly, couldn't they have come up with a better name for the report than 'Risky Business?').

Six or seven years ago we sent Stephen Beard and Sam Eaton off to do a series we called 'Frozen Assets' — an exploration of the ways in which businesses would be able to take advantage of a warming planet. Back then, we concentrated on the areas that were (and mostly still are) literally frozen — Norway, Arctic Canada, and Greenland — and what would happen up there; oil exploration, fishing opportunities and shipping routes through the Northwest passage.

Since then, as the Paulson report and countless others have made clear, the obvious downsides have been mounting: decreased productivity, coastal property damage, infrastructure problems, lower crop yields and growing public health concerns. I could go on, but it'd be easier if you just have a look at the report, which I highly recommend.

Here — at long last — is my point. There's a way that capitalism — arguably the root cause of global warming — can help us find a way out. Or, at least, a way to mitigate the looming apocalypse. If companies, governments and people realize that market forces can work to our advantage in this — without resorting reflexively to well-entrenched positions — well, then maybe we've got a chance.

Or, to paraphrase Ezra Klein, maybe we're just screwed.

Beijing: From Hardship Post To Plum Assignment And Back Again

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 23:32

In past decades, foreign firms offered lavish perks for people to work in Beijing because of how hard life was there. China's booming economy ended that. Now, air pollution is driving many to leave.

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Cuba's Mariel Port: Once An Escape, Now A Window To The Future

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 23:29

In the 1980s and '90s, thousands of Cubans fleeing to the U.S. passed through Mariel port. Today, it's the site of an ambitious special economic zone that is filling many locals with optimism.

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Deford: NCAA Says Amateurism Is Alive And Well, But The Jig Is Up

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 23:28

In a trial underway in California, the NCAA is arguing that college ball players should not be paid. But every coach knows that many players are not typical students, says commentator Frank Deford.

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How Much Does A Terrorist Attack Cost? A Lot Less Than You'd Think

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 23:27

A remote-controlled bomb costs as much as an iPhone. Car bombs can cost up to $20,000. So for a cash-rich group like ISIS, the only limit to attacks is the number of people willing to carry them out.

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Trouble In Paradise: Opiate Use Spikes On Martha's Vineyard

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 23:25

There have been six overdose deaths on the posh island since last August. An addiction specialist on Martha's Vineyard calls it a "phenomenal rate for a community of 16,000 people."

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Hachette Book Group Buys Perseus

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 22:09

The news comes at a time when Hachette is in contentious negotiations with Amazon.com, which has slowed shipments, reduced discounts and removed pre-order buttons for numerous Hachette releases.

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Sen. Thad Cochran Beats Back Tea Party Challenge

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 19:49

The 76-year-old Mississippi Republican managed to hang on after a runoff that likely represented the Tea Party's best remaining chance to knock off a Senate incumbent.

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Miss. Sen Thad Cochran Defeats Tea Party Challenger

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 19:02

The six-term Republican defeated insurgent state Sen. Chris McDaniel for his party's nomination.

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New House Leadership Puts Export Bank On Shakier Ground

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 16:35

Described as either a boost to U.S. jobs and the economy or as "crony capitalism," the Export-Import Bank's future has grown cloudier under new House Majority Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

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Methodists Reinstate Minister Who Officiated At Son's Gay Marriage

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 15:10

Frank Schaefer, a minister with the United Methodist Church, has won an appeal and had his pastoral credentials restored.

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How education tax breaks benefit the rich

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-24 14:54
<a href="http://marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/fin-aid-tax-breaks">View Survey</a>

'Star Wars' Museum Lands In Chicago

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 14:50

Filmmaker George Lucas has selected the Windy City to house his collection of art and movie memorabilia. San Francisco had also reportedly been in contention.

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Survey says: Guilty of not filling out your survey

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-24 14:27

I guess I should be happy that JetBlue and American Express and Dividend Miles and my kids’ pediatrician, and my dentist, and the Hertz "Gold" program, which I signed up for, but never used, care about what I think.

But on a scale of one to five, with one being "I am respected, hear me roar," and five being "I feel ignored," I’m all the way at ten—as in, "What kind of sucker do you take me for?" Apparently it’s not enough that I give these businesses my money, now I’ve got do their market research, too—for free.

Oh, excuse me, to be fair, sometimes they do offer a tiny payment, or the remote chance of winning a prize—both of which are obviously designed to get me to use the product or service again, which in turn will trigger … another survey. I don’t see a living in it.

But the surveys are gaining on me. The country’s best-known survey platform, SurveyMonkey, is now processing survey responses at the rate of 2.2 million per day, up from one million a day in January 2013, and it recently introduced a mobile app, meaning clients don’t even have to be at their desks to create and zap off a survey. Look out, here comes one now!

We have the internet to thank for this, of course. Online technology makes it less expensive and easier to send surveys than in the past, when data analysis took longer, and at least the cost of stamps were a deterrent.  

But you know, there can be one thing worse than taking a survey: not taking it. At my sons’ local GameStop, the employees are so nice, and make such heartfelt appeals for me to fill out the Customer Experience Survey that I feel actual remorse when I don’t. Survey guilt—who would have thought it possible?

'Natural' Food Sounds Good But Doesn't Mean Much

NPR News - Tue, 2014-06-24 13:48

A consumer advocacy group says it's time to ban the word "natural" from food labels because it's misleading. But the quest to get the government to outlaw the word entirely faces tough legal hurdles.

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Rich politicians emphasize humble beginnings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-06-24 13:45

The economic disparity between the common man and the politician is as old as democracy itself. In 64 BC when Cicero was running for consul of the Roman Republic, his brother is believed to have written what could be called the first electioneering handbook.

“One question I think people should be asking is does it matter that politicians are so much better off than the people they are supposed to represent,” says Nicholas Carnes, the author of "White Collar Government: The Hidden Roles of Class in Economic Policy Making." “And what I find is that yeah, it really does matter. Politicians, who don’t have experience doing working class jobs really do think differently, vote differently, and introduce different kinds of legislation than the few politicians who do know what it’s like to be a blue collar worker.”

Carnes says that the average member of Congress spent 1.5 percent of his pre-Congress career working in manual labor or service industry jobs, a percentage that has changed little over the last 100 years.  

But talking about that divide can be a political landmine as evidenced by Hillary Clinton’s recent claim that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House.

 

Alex  Gourevitch teaches political Science at Brown. He says the politicians who are best at pretending to be equal are the ones who avoid talking about their own wealth at all, or emphasize their humble beginnings, like John Edwards for example, who campaigned not as a wealthy attorney, but as the son of a mill worker.

 

Another strategy is to be upfront about wealth as Romney did during his bid for the presidency.

 

Here's Bill Clinton discussing his life before he was an attorney in 2008.

 

And here's Jimmy Cater in a campaign commercial from 1976:

 

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