Walmart is losing its image man. Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart, will be stepping down this summer after seven years on the job.
As the biggest private employer in America, Walmart has the ability to have a significant impact -- good and bad -- in the lives of workers and shoppers in the U.S. and abroad. Dach, who many credit with improving the company's public appearance, sees this as the promise of Walmart. But, he says his work is not just about making the company look good.
"It's made us a stronger business and it's helped us save money," Dach says, noting Walmart's sustainability efforts. "Through that we can save over a billion dollars in our energy bills, and we can return that in lower prices to our customer."
"People are looking for a bad motive, they believe that we do these things simply for public relations," Dach says, adding that expectations have been another issue. "As the company got bigger, it didn't always grasp that people had bigger expectations of it."
To hear more about Dach's work at Walmart, click on the audio player above.
In California, Governor Jerry Brown is pushing a new plan to hold down tuition and raise graduation rates at the state’s public universities. A new proposal would give those universities more state funding if they meet certain targets.
Typically, funding is awarded based on enrollment. The more students universities enroll, the more money they get.
“It’s simply been too easy to enroll students and then not focus enough on how do we get them through?” says Robert Shireman with the education policy group California Competes.
About 60 percent of University of California undergrads finish in four years. At Cal State, where many students attend part-time, just 16 percent graduate in four years.
Governor Brown’s plan would increase funding for those universities over the next four years -- if they keep tuition flat, accept more transfer students from community colleges, and graduate more students more quickly.
About a dozen states already link funding to performance, says Julie Bell, who tracks education finance at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several more are moving in that direction.
“Intuitively, it sounds reasonable,” Bell says, “but we don’t have hard evidence yet that says, in fact, this will work.”
Legislators will have to sign off on the California plan first. State officials present it to the Assembly later today.
Last week, Kitman spoke with Marketplace after he stopped off at Local Motors, a car company in Arizona that crowd-sources auto design.
On Monday, Kitman checked in from Montgomery, Alabama to discuss the market for classic sports cars.
And today, Kitman joins Marketplace Tech host David Brancaccio as he completes his journey and shares a few of his roadtrip stats. Click on the audio player above to hear more.
Tensions are on the rise this week between China and Japan after Chinese naval ships confronted Japanese fishing boats in the waters surrounding some disputed islands in the East China Sea.
It may sound like a distant squabble, but the ongoing conflict has economic impacts as far away as the U.S.
BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes joins Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson from Tokyo with the details.
Lorillard -- manufacturer of brands including Newport, Kent, True, Old Gold -- and other big tobacco companies report earnings this week. And while cigarette usage has dropped, profits are expected to be up.
The product big tobacco sells is addictive. For a manufacturer, it doesn’t get better than that. So even though the market for cigarettes is declining, by three to four percent a year, customers keep coming back. But Tom Mullarkey, a senior equity analyst with Morningstar, says tobacco companies are thinking long-term and investing in new products like smokeless tobacco and Snus. Snus are similar to chewing tobacco, except the tobacco comes in a pouch, and there’s no spitting.
“It’s very big in Sweden,” says Mullarkey.
Matthew Hudak, an analyst with Euromonitor International, says sales of Snus in the U.S. are around half a billion dollars a year and growing. But, Hudak says, sales of e-cigarettes are growing even faster.
“What a lot of tobacco companies are already betting on,” he says.
According to Hudak, sales of e-cigarettes have been doubling for the past couple of years. In the meantime Tom Mullarkey says government restrictions make it difficult for new companies to sell tobacco. And a lack of competition means prices and sales are expected to stay high.
The Associated Press Twitter account was hacked on Tuesday when a fake tweet reported a bogus explosion at the White House. Investors were watching and the Dow fell about about one percent before the tweet was retracted. AP's Twitter account is now suspended.
Some experts believe the Twitter attack started with a tainted email sent to an unsuspecting AP employee. The strategy is called spearfishing. According to the media blog Romenesko, who was forwarded the phishing email, here is how it read:
Sent: Tue 4/23/2013 12:12 PM
From: [An AP staffer]
Please read the following article, it’s very important :
[link to fake Washington Post article]
[A different AP staffer]
To protect yourself, users are urged to be alert for suspicious email. But Anup Ghosh, founder of a cybersecurity firm Invincea, says that’s not enough.
"Asking users to distinguish between what's a legitamate email [and] what's a spearfish, no longer works," Ghosh says. "We actually just need better technology to protect our networks from users who click on links, and open attachments."
Two weeks ago, Bloomberg said it is adding Twitter feeds to its popular financial data screens -- and traders may need to tread carefully. To stem the rash of recent high profile hacking incidents, Twitter is reportedly working on additional security protections.
Correction: The original article misspelled the name of cybersecurity firm Invincea. The text has been corrected.
Officials in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka say the building housed several garment factories. At least 70 people were killed and many more are trapped in the rubble.
In the budget debates on Capitol hill, “welfare spending" is a hot topic. But welfare can actually mean a lot of different things. Which brings us to the next installment of Marketplace’s “Safety Net Dictionary.”
Our word for the day is welfare.
Once upon a time, the word welfare simply meant, faring well. That’s how the framers of the U.S. Constitution used it in the preamble. Right after the part about "forming a more perfect union" and before the part about "securing the blessings of liberty", there's a charge to “promote the general welfare.”
And yet, if you go out on to the street and ask people how they feel about the word welfare today, the feelings are, to put it mildly, fairly negative.
“It’s for people who sit on their butt all day and don’t do anything and then say ‘give me your money,’” is how John Frazer, a car service driver from San Diego, put it.
“It’s kind of associated with failure,” added Suncana Laketa, a graduate student from Arizona who said she had received welfare in the past herself.
So, what happened?
“It's full of paradox that a word that means well-being came to refer to one of the most stigmatized, even hated programs,” say historian Linda Gordon of New York University.
Gordon says the word welfare hit a major turning point during the Great Depression, when as part of the Social Security Act of 1935, Congress created the first large scale federal program to offer cash assistance to people who were poor -- specifically, to single women raising children.
Back then, the program was called "Aid to Dependent Children". But even the designers of the program thought that was a mouthful, and the nickname “welfare” was quickly born, because “it was a program aiming at maintaining the welfare of children,” Gordon explains.
At first, Gordon notes, the welfare program wasn't all that controversial. But suspicions quickly set in, partly because of some pretty subjective tests used to judge which women deserved help. Gordon says social workers would do home inspections “and if they saw a bottle of beer that automatically made a woman unfit. If they saw what they considered a luxury item, like a bottle of perfume, that would be evidence” against a woman’s claim.
Another rule that gave welfare and its recipients a bad rap was the way the program originally structured its income and asset caps, leading to Catch-22 situations that discouraged benificiaries from having above-the-board jobs, or savings -- the kinds of things that could help them get off welfare.
And yet, while these sorts of rules affect our stereotypes about welfare today, the program has actually eliminated many of its original pitfalls in the last few decades, says Professor of Social Work Luke Shaefer at the University of Michigan. In the Congressional Welfare Reforms of the 1990s, welfare was rebranded "welfare to work.” It got a new official name -- "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families" -- and new rules to incentivize employment.
Since then, Shafer says the program costs less, and serves fewer families -- just 1.5 percent of the U.S. population. He has calculated that “there are actually more really active postage stamp collectors in the United States than there are cash assistance recipients.”
Oh, and just to keep you on your toes, there’s one more twist to the definition of welfare. Though cash assistance is usually what’s being referred to, sometimes welfare refers to a much greater set of social programs -- things from food stamps to Medicaid to subsidized housing.
Meaning, if you're in a debate over "welfare spending," first make sure everyone's on the same page of the dictionary.
This week's sign the apocalypse is upon us: (And honestly, I don't know how I missed this, but somehow I did.)
It seems just because fast food isn't already convenient enough, you can now get it delivered. I learned today Burger King franchises in Chicago, San Francisco and eventually here in Los Angeles will start delivering Whoppers, et al.
After all, to steal a line from one of our producers here, a microwaved $2 hamburger isn't enough. Now you can get it cold, on your door step.
Under current laws, if a background check shows your name is on the national terror watch list, you can still purchase a gun. Government data show that people on terrorism watch lists were able to buy guns or explosives after a background check more than 1,300 times between 2004 and 2010.
Once people figured out how to roast the seeds of the Coffea plant in the 1400s, coffee took over the world. In doing so, it fueled creativity, revolutions, new business ventures, literature, music — and slavery.
Corn production was down last year thanks to drought. This year, conditions are too cold and wet for farmers to plant the crop. Without a break in the clouds pretty soon, there may be another shortage of the crop at harvest time.
Bassem Youssef, the wildly popular host of an Egyptian political satire TV show, pokes fun at Egypt's president, Islamists and others. But he's now facing a slew of legal suits accusing him of everything from insulting the president to apostasy. His legal troubles are in many ways a test case for freedom of speech in the new Egypt.
It doesn't take much effort to find bags of coffee with labels that promise social and environmental improvements. But each one of these certification programs promises something different for the farmer and the land — and every promise involves some compromises.
The department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the disgraced cyclist who earned millions through his sponsorship with the U.S. Postal Service. According to The Associated Press, Armstrong's attorney called the government's complaint "opportunistic and insincere."
Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Ron Wyden have sponsored a bill aimed at outing the wealthy donors, corporations and unions that financed some $300 million in secretly funded campaign ads last year. Initial reactions showed what the two senators are up against.
The number of people who died in a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, last week now stands at 15, officials said Tuesday. They also ruled out natural causes as a potential spark for last Wednesday's fire.
Blame shifting was in high gear Tuesday on Capitol Hill and at the White House as the first air traffic delays tied to the furloughs of Federal Aviation Administration controllers began to get attention.
As you begin to consider your Memorial Day plans, we're here to help with the barbeque. We have a guy who knows a thing or two about buying a grill.
Meathead Goldwyn of AmazingRibs.com. (Meathead is the name he prefers, just Meathead.) And he's compiled a searchable database of reviews. Whether you're looking for gas or charcoal, a small portable grill, or your deck's centerpiece, there are over 300 to browse.
His answers to your our burning nuts 'n' bolts grilling questions:
Gas, or charcoal?
Meathead: Nothing beats charcoal for flavor. You get that really high temp that you need for a good, dark mahogony sear on a steak... And you can't beat gas for convenience. You go out there, turn the switch, 10 minutes later you're ready to rock and roll.
How much should I spend as an occasional weekend griller?
Meathead: If you spend $400 or so you can get a pretty good tool, if you're cooking on it a lot. There are some nice gizmos out there in the $200 range, but they're not built to last. In 4-5 years, they'll start busting.
Sauce or dry rub?
Meathead: Both! Dry rub goes down first, always. But sauce is really nice, especially if you do it right.
How do you feel about pulled pork?
Meathead: When people ask me where to start, especially with smoked meats, pulled pork is absolutely the way to go. It's really forgiving. It's hard to screw up. You can serve it on a sandwich, or drizzle a little sauce on there. Taste is a matter of taste.
What is the single most important thing I can do to make me a better griller?
Meathead: Digital thermometer. Food is ready to eat when it hits the target temperature, not according to a clock. [Buyer's Guide]
RECIPE: Grilled Sweet And Sour Pork
Makes. Dinner for 2
Takes. 1 hour
1 pound pork tenderloin
1 medium onion, peeled, ends removed, and cut into 2 hemispheres
1 bell pepper, your choice of colors, cut in half, stem and seeds discarded
3 cross section slices of fresh pineapple, about 1/2" thick, peeled and cored
1/2 cup Mumbo Sauce from my recipe
About the pork. Remember, tenderloins are different from loins (see my article on the different pork cuts). They are a bit more expensive than loins, and more tender. I strongly recommend that you resist the temptation to use another cut.
Using chicken or shrimp. You can adapt these concepts to chicken or shrimp easily. Just be very careful to not overcook the meat. That's why I recommend 2" thick hunks.
About the peppers. You can substitute a red bell pepper, or, if you want a little heat, use a poblano pepper. I like to add a jalapeño for some kick.
About the pineapple. Use fresh pineapple if possible. You can use canned pineapple without the liquid if you can't find fresh. If you do, don't waste the sweet syrup from the can. Substitute it for some of the water in the sauce and leave out a tablespoon or two of sugar.
About the Mumbo Sauce. Mumbo Sauce is a sweet sour sauce popular in Washington DC and it works perfectly on this dish.
About the rice. Typical Chinese restaurant style is with white rice, but feel free to use brown rice if you wish. Just remember it takes 30 minutes longer and so you need to start it before things go on the grill.
Optional garnishes. Sprinkle some fresh chives or green onions on the top. Better still, add 1/4 cup unsalted cashews browned in a dry frying pan over medium heat. I usually do both.
Serve with. A slightly sweet Riesling or Gewurztraminer.
1) Make the Mumbo Sauce. You can do this days or weeks in advance. Keep it warm if you are making it fresh. If it has been in the fridge, warm it in a pan or in the microwave.
2) The tenderloin is a tube of meat with a taper on one end and a lump on the other. Lop them both off so you have a tube of uniform thickness. Trim off any excess fat and silverskin. Silverskin is just what it sounds like, a silvery, thin, sheath between the fat and the meat that will shrink and get tough when cooked. That's four tenderloins ready to go at right. Salt everything liberally and let it sit for about 20 minutes in the fridge so the salt will be absorbed. Then coat everything in a thin layer of cooking oil so it won't stick and so it will brown better.
3) Set up the grill with a 2-zones for indirect and direct heat cooking. and get the indirect side up to about 325°F.
4) Start grilling the onions, pineapple, and bell peppers over the hot part of the grill with the lid closed. Stay close to the grill so nothing burns. Get grill marks on both sides, but take them off a little undercooked, when they are limp but not soft, and put then in a pot. You want a little crunch. The onions will probably finish last. It's OK if they cool a bit because you need to chop them and you'll burn yourself if they are too hot.
5) Put the pork, trimmed chunks and tubes, on the indirect side and cook with the lid closed. Watch the temp on the small pieces closely, they will finish first.
6) Start the rice. Put the water, salt, and butter in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid and bring to a boil. Add the rice, pouring it in slowly so that each grain is engulfed in water rather than just dumping it in. This will help keep it from clumping. Stir briefly and dial back the heat to a slow simmer, on low. Cover with a tight lid so little steam will escape and simmer 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid and do not stir. After it is done, taste it. If it is too crunchy, cook for another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork and serve.
7) While the pork and rice are cooking, chop the veggies and pineapple into bite sized chunks and put them in a pot on the indirect part of the grill just to keep warm. Warm the sauce.
8) When the tubes of pork approach 125°F, roll them onto the hot side so they will brown. Continue cooking until the center of the tube hits 145°F. If you are making this with chicken, it needs to go up to 165°F and if you are cooking shrimp you should pull shrimp off as soon as it turns bright orange and the center is opaque.
9) Remove the pork and slice each tube lengthwise into quarters. Bundle the quarters and slice across them every 1/2" to make 1/2" chunks. Add the meat to the pot with the chopped veggies and pineapple and stir everything together.
10) Plate the rice first and spoon the meat and veggies on top, and drizzle the sauce over everything. If you have toasted cashews, sprinkle some on top at the last minute so they don't get soggy.
Adrian Moncrieffe was deported to Jamaica after police found a small amount of marijuana in his car. The Supreme Court decision means that he can now ask immigration authorities to allow him to return to the U.S., and to his wife and five American children.