National News

Smith College president talks affordable education

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:51

What’s  it like to run the institutions that are on the front lines of the debate we're having in this country over higher education and its merits?

Kathleen McCartney, who  just took over as the president of Smith College a little less than six months ago, says cost is a big part of her thinking.

She said one of her main focuses is making a college education affordable for low-income students. McCartney comes from a middle-class family and is the oldest of five children.  She attended Tufts University because of generous financial aid, and says the country needs to make sure students from a background like hers can go to the best schools, no matter the cost.

“We have students who are going to be enrolling at Smith next year who went to charter schools, just from the lowest of low families,” said McCartney. “So we’re doing as much outreach as we can, and I know that other colleges are doing the same.”

 McCartney said one thing students and families need to do is think past the “sticker price” of a college education.

"I think we have to educate families, because some colleges are not a good bargain," said McCartney.  "What parents and students need to do is find things out like ‘How much debt does the average student leave this college with?'"


Ad For Surgical Robot Violated University of Illinois Policies

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:50

A medical center surgical team endorsed the da Vinci robot in an advertisement that ran in The New York Times Magazine in January. A university review found no fraud but said rules weren't followed.

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In First Press Conference, New Fed Chair Goes Vague

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:20

In her first press conference as chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen pledged to keep interest rates low, but at times she wavered in word choice.

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Russian Flags Fly Over Ukrainian Base — But Who Stormed It?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:14

Masked, pro-Russian forces have taken control of at least part of Ukraine's naval base in Crimea. No one was reported injured, but the Ukrainian commander was taken away by unidentified men.

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Most U.S. Women Wouldn't Know A Stroke If They Saw Or Felt One

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:02

Acting fast can be key to preventing permanent damage from a stroke. But many women don't realize that face or arm numbness, speech trouble or abrupt, severe headache can mean it's time to call 911.

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To Save Her Husband's Life, A Woman Fights For Access To TB Drugs

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:01

When doctors ran out of treatment options for her dying husband, Oxana Rucsineanu took matters into her own hands. The costly new drug she got for him has menacing side effects, but it might save him.

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Alzheimer's Diagnosis Expanding To Catch Early Warning Signs

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:00

The approach would recognize changes in behavior and in the brain. Right now there aren't treatments that slow down the disease, but identifying high-risk patients early on could help with prevention.

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As Iran Talks Wrap Up, Diplomats Get Specific

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:00

The latest round of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, including the U.S., drew to a close in Vienna, Austria. Both sides were relieved to avoid any dust-ups and plan to meet again in April.

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In Airliner Search, Countries Still Wonder What Parts To Play

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:00

FBI investigators are now joining the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It's one more instance of increasingly closer international cooperation in the search — though confusion persists.

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Toyota's $1.2B Settlement Puts Criminal Probe To Rest

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 12:00

Toyota will pay $1.2 billion to end a federal criminal probe into a vehicle recall. Federal regulators said five people died in accidents related to unintended acceleration prior to the recall.

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In The Absence Of Answers, We Return Repeatedly To The Questions

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 11:55

The missing Malaysia Airlines jet seems to mirror fiction, and we can't look away. This only makes media want to cover it more, regardless of the information available.

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The only thing the Fed has left is words. And dots.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-19 11:51

Short term interest rates have been near zero for a while, so the Fed can't really lower them any further.  Monetary policy isn't pushing up inflation, as many had feared it would.  And while the Fed is still employing the bond-buying program formerly known as Quantitative Easing to push down interest rates on bonds and assets, it's beginning to ramp that down.  

In other words, the Fed has now employed all of its tools it usually uses to influence interest rates. All it's got left? Words. Specifically, something called "Forward Guidance," which is really just telling the American people what it plans to do in future. That may sound obvious, but it's a real departure from the opaque world that the Fed used to inhabit.

Also, in referencing a chart of the guidance made with dots, Yellen said we "should not look at the dot plot as the primary way in which the Committee is speaking to the public at large."

"These dots are going to move up or down over time."

The Fed's words of the day (in dot form, of course):


How have you lived gentrification?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-19 11:44
This week on the show, Marketplace Money will be tackling gentrification. Tell us about your experience!

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Amazon Prime could be too popular?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-19 11:44
Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 04:00 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Shipping orders go by on a conveyor belt at Amazon's San Bernardino Fulfillment Center October 29, 2013 in San Bernardino, California.

There's been speculation that Amazon may drive away customers by jacking up the price of its Prime service, which includes free two-day shipping and amenities like streaming video. In a survey, about 40 percent of Amazon Prime customers told Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) that, yes, they might ditch the service if the price went up twenty bucks. 

However, CIRP partner and co-founder Josh Lowitz doesn't believe them. He says Prime is still a good deal: Free shipping, plus the video streaming, and word of more to come, like free streaming music.

"We think people will figure it out. In fact, we think when people make the $99 commitment to Amazon Prime, they’re going to be even better Amazon customers.  Because they’re going to want to get their money’s worth out of the shipping."

Which could be the real problem for Amazon. That’s how Colin Gillis, a tech analyst at BGC Partners, sees it. He points out that Amazon already loses billions of dollars a year on shipping, and those losses are growing fast.

"If you look at their shipping losses, it’s about 4.7 percent of total revenue. And that’s about the margin that a decent retailer makes."

Worst-case scenario, Amazon becomes a big-scale version of an old joke:  Sure, I lose a penny on each one, but I sell a ZILLION of them!

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of a CIRP partner and co-founder. He is  Josh Lowitz. The text has been corrected.

Marketplace Morning Report for Thursday, March 20, 2014Marketplace Tech for Thursday, March 20, 2014by Dan WeissmannPodcast Title: Amazon Prime could be too popular?Story Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

After combat, a battle for job-hunting veterans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-19 11:35
Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 04:00 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A brochure by Disney Corporation is placed on a table during a jobs fair for veterans called 'Serving Those Who Have Served' on the campus of University of Southern California on March 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif.

The Labor Department is expected to release its annual report on the job situation for veterans soon. The jobless rate for those who served after 9/11 has tended to be higher than the overall unemployment rate.

Though typically highly skilled, disciplined and hard-working, veterans of recent conflicts often have more difficulty than civilians in finding work. Companies love to hang yellow ribbons and run ads about supporting America’s veterans. But veterans say they aren’t always as quick to hire them because civilian managers don’t understand how to evaluate military experience.

“The hardest part for me when I first got out of the military was figuring out what to write on a resume,” says Marine veteran Michael Wersan, who served in Iraq as an infantry assaultman. “Nobody cares that I did 700 patrols in seven months. That doesn’t compute for a civilian.”

But he translated his skills into a civilian resume and picked up new ones studying at the City University of New York. He’s now a construction supervisor.

Former Marine Tireak Tulloch did two tours in Iraq and had advanced training in network engineering. His skills are in demand, but at first, he says he couldn’t get past initial phone interviews. A reservist when he was job searching, he felt managers wouldn’t hire him because they feared he’d be sent back to Iraq. But he kept at it and his civilian career in technology has since taken off.

Those who speak for veterans say there's a great deal of mistunderstanding amongst employers. 

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions that every veteran is a ticking time bomb,” says Derek Bennett, an Army veteran, who is chief of staff of the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a reality after combat. But veterans groups say employers need to understand that PTSD is managable. Overall, they want employers to look beyond stereotypes and do more to reach out to veteran communities, where they may find men and women with the skills they’re looking for.

Marketplace Morning Report for Thursday, March 20, 2014Veterans' jobs programs close unemployment gap

Mark Garrison: Companies love to run ads about supporting the troops. But former Army officer Derek Bennett, of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, says that doesn’t always mean hiring them.

Derek Bennett: Finding employment can be difficult. Translating what you’ve done in the military into something that is recognizable by an employer can be difficult as well.

Marine veteran Michael Wersan says combat experience is hard to explain on a resume.

Michael Wersan: Nobody cares that I did 700 patrols in seven months. That doesn’t compute for a civilian.

He’s now a construction supervisor. Iraq Veteran Tireak Tulloch found job hunting frustrating at first.

Tireak Tulloch: I really couldn’t get past the phone interview.

But he kept at it and now works in network engineering. Apart from misunderstanding military skills, Derek Bennett says some employers misunderstand vets.

Bennett: I think there are a lot of misconceptions that every veteran is a ticking time bomb.

Not all veterans have PTSD. And it’s manageable. Vets want employers to look beyond stereotypes and do more to find the veterans who might have the skills they’re looking for. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

by Mark GarrisonPodcast Title: After combat, a battle for job-hunting veteransStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Will tablets replace waitresses and store clerks?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-19 11:32

We’ve seen this pattern before, everywhere from elevator operators to ATMs: Technology takes jobs. So what about tablets? Sales are skyrocketing. Does that mean an equivalent dip in work for humans?

If you’re a retailer, Joe Skorupa, editor in chief of Retail Info Systems News, points out that you actually have to buy equipment, and expensive equipment at that, to allow you to take money from customers. In other words, it takes money to make money.

“For every cash wrap station in a store, you have to have a table scanner which is built into the table and is fixed. You have to have a mobile scanner that’s handheld. You have to have a printer,” he says.

Registers cost a lot of cash. Between $1,500 and $2,000 each, says Skorupa. But he says there’s a cheaper way.

Tablets and other new mobile technology can run credit cards, display menus, and they’re only about $500 each. Skorupa calls them a Swiss army knife of digital capability. So there’s an understandable concern – why pay a human cashier every day, when you can pay for a tablet, once?

But even though the Apple store doesn’t have a cash register in sight, and is the birthplace of the tablet, it still seems to be swarming with sales people.

“I don’t think we can say that it’s taking jobs away,” says Dan Shey, a practice director with ABI Research.

Mobile technology, like tablets, says Shey, allow employees to be more flexible. Like the roving workers at the Apple store – they could potentially stock shelves, answer questions, or take your payment.

“Certainly if you have a product in your hand you’re going to see more sales associates approaching you,” he says, “so you can buy that product as soon as possible.”

Retailers are worried – if you see a long line, or can’t find a register, you might just leave the store, and take your money with you. Shey says tablet sales are growing fast. Last year, 160 million were shipped around the world. But tablets don’t always mean more efficiency.

Dacotah Rousseau and her husband own Flute, a chain of Champagne bars in Manhattan. She says she tried to embrace tablets, but they didn't return her love. Her bar sells, and occasionally spills, liquids. And of course, the occasional table gets knocked over. All of which can be tough on electronics.

“If you’ve ever dropped a cell phone,” says Rousseau, “it can be pretty catastrophic and it’s the same thing.”

Another problem - Wi-Fi can be spotty at her bar which mean processing payments can take a while.

“It would go down and we couldn’t run credit cards,” says Rousseau, “and when people want to get their check and leave, they want to get their check and leave. It’s something that they will go on Yelp and complain about the next day -- if it took 20 minutes to get a check, or to pay their bill.”

Rousseau says she was hoping to put her menus on tablets. But she says she’s not sure how well tablet menus would work. Something she discovered recently when she and her husband were out to dinner.

“If you have one tablet at a table only one person at a table can browse the menu at a time. And very often there is one tablet, they’re expensive, and you don’t hand one to every customer. The days when you handed a menu to the man at the table and he ordered for everyone, that’s over.”

Joe Skorupa says while we might not see a change yet, ultimately tablets will mean less human employees who are paid more for more skills. But Dacotah Rousseau says, her employees, do not have to worry about electronic competition, at least not any time in the foreseeable future. There are she notes, still a lot of issues that need to be worked out before tablets will work for her workplace, such as protecting them from theft.

“You would not believe the things that people take as souvenirs,” she says. “It’s amazing to me – they steal silverware, they steal printed menus, they steal pictures off the walls in the bathrooms. People will take anything as a souvenir.”

Did any of her tablets get stolen?

“I don’t know,” she muses. “I kind of wish they were. At least somebody would be using them.”

Half Of Americans Believe In Medical Conspiracy Theories

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 11:25

Despite evidence to the contrary, many Americans believe cellphones cause cancer and that health officials are covering it up. Discredited theories about vaccines and fluoridation also remain popular.

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Who gets the revenues from Jason Collins' jersey sales

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-19 11:20

Even non-basketball fans know about basketball fan Jason Collins. He’s the first openly gay player in one of the four major professional sports. He wears jersey number 98 to honor Matthew Sheppard; the teen killed in a gay-hate crime in 1998.

Since Collins started with the Brooklyn Nets on a temporary 10-day contract a couple of weeks ago, his jersey has been among the top sellers on But how do the revenues from his jersey sales actually break down?

The NBA will receive 50 percent of proceeds from sales and the National Basketball Player’s Association will get the other half. The NBA has decided to donate its portion of the proceeds towards the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Matthew Shepard Foundation

 Alicia Jessop teaches sports law at the University of Miami. She said the Brooklyn Nets will hold onto the money they make off the jersey.

"All the merchandise they sell in their own brick and mortar locations and their teams stores. They will keep all of the proceeds from those sales,” said Jessop.

 Jessop said the high jersey sales really speak to the power of sports.

"People who would never go to an NBA game are sitting front and center," said Jessop. "A guy who's averaging less than 1 point per game? He has the best selling jersey on the NBA’s website." 

A day to be neighborly

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-19 11:12

From the Marketplace Datebook, here’s a look at what’s coming up Thursday:

  • The Conference Board releases its monthly index of leading economic indicators.
  • It’s the first day of spring. One springtime activity—the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It begins in Washington.
  • And Mister Rogers fans, put on a nice sweater. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Day is observed on the anniversary of Fred Rogers’ birthday.

Fed Reduces Bond Purchases By Additional $10 Billion

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-19 10:55

Citing progress in the labor markets, the Federal Reserve said it would continue winding down its economic stimulus program. But Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the U.S. economy still faces headwinds.

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