National News

More Active Play Equals Better Thinking Skills For Kids

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-29 10:12

How long can you sit still in a desk? How about your 7-year-old? Maybe you could both use a break. A study shows that kids who get to run around and play after school are better at paying attention.

» E-Mail This

This is a generic brand video

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 10:10

It's the ad that comes before the YouTube video you're trying to watch: a hopeful message from a company trying to sell you on its brand and outlook, usually with no shortage of inspirational imagery and plenty of metaphors.

Kendra Eash captured the language and tone brands use in a piece for McSweeneys.

Listen to the story in the player above with an active imagination (or watch the video) to see what she's talking about.

'Breaking Bad' and Albuquerque: One year later

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 10:06

AMC's critically acclaimed series "Breaking Bad," created by Vince Gilligan, ran its very last episode one year ago. The show takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and although production has stopped, the town continues to experience an economic boom. Even tourism rates grew exponentially.

In 2013, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed what was called the "Breaking Bad bill" into law, a film incentive that increases subsidies for television crews from 25 percent to 30 percent in some areas of expenditure. The law increases New Mexico's rebate for series television production to 30 percent of a producer's total qualified spend in the state.

"We actually see people that will come here specifically to go and see the sites," says Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry. "I have been as far as Beijing where people have asked me about 'Breaking Bad,' so, yeah, it surely has put us on the map internationally."

Another positive outcome was the number of jobs the show produced. Actors and television producers weren’t the only ones to benefit job-wise from filming, Berry says.

"It’s electricians, the lumber yard selling lumber, and it is craft, and it is the local places that rent their businesses out to film," says Berry. "It really hits our economy from top to bottom."

"Breaking Bad" has a spinoff show called "Better Call Saul," also created by Gilligan, and also set in Albuquerque. It is scheduled to premiere in February 2015.

The show has already been picked up for a second season.

 "When 'Breaking Bad' filmed here, almost $70 million came into our economy," says Berry. "We think that 'Better Call Saul' is going to be another great opportunity for us."

Is that Thai food genuine? Ask a robot.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 09:36

This story, found in the pages of the New York Times, when you think about it, is a thing of pure genius.

Scientists in Thailand are set to unveil a robot that will be able to tell whether Thai food is actually genuine Thai food.

Proper proportions, the right taste — you get the idea.

The possibilities, honestly, are endless...testing Mexican food, Chinese, Indian.

Of course, it's entirely possible we Americans have just come to prefer "fake" ethnic food.

The battle over which company has your number

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 09:30

Telecom security, consumer privacy and the tension that lies therein is a hot topic. In the spotlight on Capitol Hill right now? Negotiations over a federal contract for which company will route phone calls.  

Once upon a time, if you switched phone carriers, you had to switch your telephone number. In 1997, Congress said you can keep your number even if you switch, said Ahmed Ghappour, a law professor at UC Hastings.

“And so that resulted in a great deal of confusion,” Ghappour said.

He said that’s because, before that law, each phone service provider was awarded blocks of numbers. If the police wanted to tap a number, they would know which company to go to. But once you could keep your number, that system was gone.

So the government contracted a company named Neustar to keep track of all phone numbers. Also, every time you make a call, it's Neustar that routes your call to the right carrier.

“It’s essentially a central pathway for all calls to and from telephone lines that utilize U.S. telecom services,” Ghappour said.

Now Neustar might lose the contract to Ericsson, which is based in Sweden. Neustar says this would be bad for national security, said Jonathan Mayer, a fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation.

“It certainly is a legitimate concern that the company that routes calls is in position to know a fair amount about law enforcement and intelligence investigations,” Mayer said.

For example, a hostile country could break in and see that law enforcement is asking about the phone numbers of its spies.

Christopher Soghoian, a technologist at the ACLU, said an American-based company can’t protect data any better than one in based in Europe.

“The security community doesn’t know how to build a system that allows access to one party but keeps others out,” Soghoian said.

Soghoian said the only way to keep data out of the hands of the bad guys is to secure it from everybody — even law enforcement. 

Is Facebook's new ad tool a game changer?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 09:28

Facebook is rolling out an advertising tool today that the company claims will be a real game changer. It wants to merge data from its over 1 billion active monthly users with their travels across the Internet on computers and mobile phones alike.

The end result is that advertisers can use the tool to buy ads outside of Facebook.

Currently, there’s a black hole between people’s internet use on smartphones and computers, says Nate Elliott, an analyst at Forrester Research.

“So you can target people who like the New York Yankees on the PC, you target people who like the New York Yankees on a phone, but you’re never quite sure, today, if you’re catching the same people on both of those platforms,” he explains.

Facebook’s Atlas service wants to close that gap and let advertisers better measure whether their ads were effective.

But Elliott cautions that Facebook’s announcement is short on details about how Atlas works.

“Today they’ve presented us with some nicely packaged sausage, but they haven’t told us much about how the sausage is being made,” Elliott says.

If the service is as good as the company claims, Karen North, a professor of digital social media at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, says it could help Facebook better compete in its ad wars with Google.

“Where Facebook has struggled in the past is that people don’t go to Facebook to buy things,” she says. “So now they’re deciding, 'Well maybe the whole Facebook ad idea isn’t the right answer.' Maybe it’s, ‘We’ll just be the place to come to buy ads for wherever you are.’”

A couple of years ago, Facebook watchers were bemoaning its lack of a mobile strategy. So this is fast progress, says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates.

But it may elevate the privacy concerns many users already have with Facebook.

“If it’s done well, you will notice it,” says Kay. “Because what you’ll find is the creepy effect; that you’ll visit a site and then you’ll go somewhere else and notice an ad for something that seems to be related to that site you just visited. “

Facebook declined an interview request for this story, but the company has said it won’t give advertisers identifying information about users.

Just lots and lots of data.

What you need to know about Occupy Central

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 09:27

Stocks have been on a rollercoaster ride recently, and geopolitical events aren't helping. Last week it was the campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. On Monday it was Hong Kong, where demonstrators are demanding that future elections be free from Beijing's interference.

Here's what you need to know about the movement, commonly referred to as Occupy Central.

What's happening? 

The thousands of demonstrators — mostly students — don’t want Bejing to vet their political candidates. Hong Kong was slated to gain universal suffrage and hold its first fully democratic election for chief executive in 2017.

Chinese president Xi Jinping reportedly reasserted his stance on the issue in a meeting with business leaders from the region. Protesters began gathering in Hong Kong's business district Wednesday, clogging roads, closing schools and businesses and canceling civic events.

Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

What's the history behind it?

Hong Kong used to be a British territory, returning to Chinese control in 1997. A document called Basic Law was ratified during the transition, guaranteeing certain freedoms and eventually democratic elections to Hong Kong under the ethos "one country, two systems."

"There are things you can talk about, there are books you can buy in Hong Kong, even though it's part of the People's Republic of China, that are off limits in other parts of the People's Republic of China," says Jeff Wasserstrom, who studies protest movements in China.

This isn't the first time Hong Kong has pushed back against policies from mainland China to keep their semi-autonomy. New national security laws and education efforts have been points of protest, and Hong Kong is still the only place where people can legally hold vigils for the 1989 massacre near Tiananmen Square.

What's Hong Kong's role in the economy?

Hong Kong has freer capital flows than mainland China, as well as more financial regulations and legal freedoms. All that is attractive to businesses.

“On the surface, Hong Kong’s economy is tiny,” says IHS chief economist Nariman Behravesh. “But … you’ve got a lot of Western banks having big operations there. You’ve got a lot of Chinese banks. So Hong Kong plays a very important role financially in Asia, but especially with respect to financial flows and capital flows in and out of China.”

Hong Kong is often called a gateway to China. An American or European manufacturer might set up a plant in mainland China to lower labor costs. But the company could also set up shop in Hong Kong, where’s it’s easier to raise capital in the Asian markets.

The protests may cause short-term market disruptions, but Johns Hopkins economist Heiwai Tang says Western businesses will have to grapple with Hong Kong’s integration with China over the next several years, especially if China's in charge.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

How has the government responded?

About 40 people have been injured in the protests, which have largely been peaceful. Riot police deployed tear gas over the weekend, but were less confrontational Monday while still urging the crowd to disperse.

Occupy Central presents a test for President Jinping, the New York Times reported, who has positioned himself as a political strongman, drawing a hard line against dissent in the mainland. Making concessions to the protesters would be a sign of weakness, but a show of force large enough to dispel these protests could bring back dark memories of Tiananmen Square

Wasserstorm told Vox the protests could end with Hong Kong's current chief executive stepping down, which wouldn't likely change election policies for the time being but could be a small victory for pro-democracy groups nonetheless.

What's the role of social media in this?

As with many, many recent protests around the world, social media has played an important role, especially since the Internet is censored in mainland China. The government reportedly blocked Instagram over the weekend, and state-owned messaging service Sina Weibo saw a record number of posts deleted. A number of journalists have been providing live coverage on Twitter, which is blocked in mainland China.

Protesters have begun organizing through the chatroom app FireChat, which saw 100,000 new users sign up over the weekend and 33,000 people using it simultaneously in Hong Kong. FireChat is particularly useful to protesters because it's difficult to censor or shut down. However, FireChat doesn't allow private chat and it's not encrypted, limiting its utility for protesters.

#OccupyCentral #HKStudentStrike
Pls remember msgs not encrypted yet. Dont use your real name.
http://t.co/hFrrfffFMu pic.twitter.com/JPtK7ZRLrC

— OpenGarden (@OpenGarden) September 28, 2014

Swedish Scientists Square Off Over Who Can Sneak In Most Dylan Lyrics

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-29 09:25

It all started in 1997, when two professors from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm published an article on flatulence titled "Nitric Oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind."

» E-Mail This

What We Don't Know About Heart Disease Can Kill Us

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-29 09:10

People in the United Kingdom failed big time when they took a poll on risk factors for heart disease. Think you're more up to speed? Try our quickie quiz and find out.

» E-Mail This

How Hong Kong Protesters Are Connecting, Without Cell Or Wi-Fi Networks

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-29 08:57

Pro-democracy protesters are downloading a fast-growing app called FireChat to stay in touch. It has been used around the world during political unrest.

» E-Mail This

California Enacts 'Yes Means Yes' Law, Defining Sexual Consent

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-29 08:27

The new law requires an "affirmative consent" and states that consent can't be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

» E-Mail This

Everything But The Squeal: How The Hog Industry Cuts Food Waste

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-29 08:25

Large-scale hog operations get a bad environmental rap. But when it comes to processing the animals, the industry is a model of efficiency, making use of every last bit in sometimes surprising ways.

» E-Mail This

The numbers for September 29, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:51

Police fired 87 canisters of tear gas at the Occupy Central protesters in Hong Kong Sunday, injuring at least 40, but the pro-democracy activists stayed put on Monday. Riot police have reportedly backed off from the crowd, but are still urging protesters to disperse. The crowd is protesting a move from Beijing they say will put restrictions on the election for city executive in 2017.

As we keep an eye on the situation in Hong Kong, here are some of the other stories we're reading Monday.

$85 billion

The value of the Federal Reserve's loan to AIG, amid the 2008 financial crisis. Starting Monday, a federal judge will weigh whether the bailout, which gave the government a nearly 80 percent stake in the company, was legal. The six-week trial will call on former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury secretaries Timothy Geithner and Henry "Hank" Paulson, Reuters reported.

$780 to $930 million

The estimated cost of U.S.-led airstrikes against the extremist group ISIS in Syria, according to a report from Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The report also gives projected costs of the conflict, depending on the continued airstrikes and the number of ground forces potentially deployed. Some estimates were as high as $22 billion per year.

1.3 billion

Facebook's massive user base's data will be used in a new advertising platform called Atlas, launching Monday. The service, bought from Microsoft last year, will use Facebook data for targeted ads across the web and in mobile apps, The New York Times reported. Like all things Facebook, it comes with a bevy of privacy concerns.

Biting the hand that feeds you?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:00

On Monday, the federal government will be on trial in Washington. It’s being sued over the government bailout of the insurance giant American International Group, or AIG.

In the fall of 2008, the government made an offer to AIG. In essence: We’ll loan you $85 billion. In return, we get a nearly 80 percent stake in AIG.

The suit is being spearheaded by a former CEO of the company, Hank Greenberg, who now heads Starr International Co. He says the government violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says the government can’t seize private property without just compensation.  

Hester Peirce is a senior research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center. She’s not unsympathetic to Greenberg. But she thinks he’ll lose.

“Arguing that you were entitled to government assistance during a crisis is a pretty weak argument,” she says.

The government says AIG’s board approved the bailout, and the company couldn’t dictate the terms of its rescue. If the government wins, the case could set some loose ground rules for future bailouts of financial institutions.

“The institutions do have to agree to government terms if they want the assistance," says Marcus Stanley, policy director for Americans for Financial Reform.

And, he says, they can’t go back and object to the terms, long after the bailout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall Street’s Inner Sanctum

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:00

Once during the roaring '90s, I was ushered into the high temple of Wall Street. You might be thinking Goldman Sachs, but its headquarters are near, but not on, Wall Street. The high temple of Wall Street is the big church that presides over the street’s high end, Trinity.

I was interviewing the Rev. Dan Matthews, the Episcopal priest who was, at the time, rector of Trinity. The topic was what we then called “socially responsible investment,” a way to apply an investor’s personal values to a portfolio. Trinity owns a lot of Manhattan real estate and I was curious if the parish screens its massive portfolio to be sure it doesn’t own securities in companies that do things the church finds morally repugnant. 

Not really, came the answer. Matthews told me that his board of directors consisted of captains of Wall Street, and, try as he might, he could never get his vestry to agree on good versus bad companies (beyond their capacities to generate future profits). There was a strong view that it was the board’s fiduciary responsibility to make sure the church’s portfolio generated the best return. It was the job of priests and parishioners to then decide what good works could be done with the proceeds.

That was 18 years ago, and the movement has come a long, long way. Many practitioners have taken the word “social” out of the acronym; it’s still SRI, but Socially Responsible Investing now stands for Sustainable, Responsible, Impact investing. It involves much more than screening out companies that do stuff you don’t like (like despoiling the Earth). It can also mean rewarding companies that do better than their peers to address social ills as you, the investor, see them. SRI is also about shareholder engagement. Investors are part-owners of companies and can band together to pressure management to clean up its act.

All those years ago, SRI might have come off as hippie investing money management for the granola set. Now, it’s very big business, with some of the largest investment companies in the world prepared to screen portfolios.

It may be that this month SRI reached a new milestone: a high-level call for governments to help with this movement. Some of the most powerful people in the world have, in essence, endorsed what they label as Impact Investing. British Prime Minister David Cameron, as then-head of the Group of Eight club of nations, had called for a committee to be pulled together on the subject. The U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia and the European Union delegated one senior official and one prominent figure from the private sector to the group. Their mission: to figure out ways to take Impact Investing to the next level, so it can do even more to make the world a better place. The project grew out of the sense that persists after the great financial collapse of 2008 that the world of finance needs to “build a health society rather than endanger it.”

You’ve heard of the “invisible hand”? The group has just released a report calling “Impact Investing” the “invisible heart” of markets. I spoke with Matthew Bishop, New York Bureau Chief for The Economist magazine, who served as the fancy group’s reporter. He said the group embraced the notion of “three-dimensional investing,” adding social and environmental impact to the usual elements of risk and reward. He is also excited about new ways of measuring the effects of impact investing.

What’s next? The report argues that it is now time for governments to play a key role in markets that make the world healthier by making sure that regulations aren’t a stumbling block for these social innovations. Government can also make sure that when it spends its big money, it does its part to demand the similar kinds of social returns that investors may increasingly ask of their portfolios. 

PODCAST: The strength of the Indian-American community

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 03:00

First up, the federal government has been accused of not aggressively going after individuals who had a part in the financial crisis. Today, it's the federal government being sued in a federal court over its bailout of the insurance giant American International Group. A former CEO of AIG thinks the bailout cheated him and shareholders. And India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the U.S. right now. He'll meet with President Obama today, but he also appeared before a sold-out crowd of 20,000 at Madison Square Garden in New York this weekend, which speaks in part to the strength of the Indian-American community. Plus, let's check the ingredients list for the recipe here: A cup and a half of Big Data, stir in an algorithm, heat in a saucepan before sprinkling in the apps. Venture Capitalists believe the food industry is next in line for disruption, and tech startups have some ideas. 

How techies are reenvisioning restaurants

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 02:00

In San Francisco, you can see the future of restaurants ... or at least as it’s envisioned by the techies. And no surprise, that dining experience starts with an app.

You didn’t bring your lunch and you don’t have time to go out? Go to your iPhone, look for your favorite restaurant app, and click on the photo of the lunch you want. While they can’t quite zap it to you yet, they’re working on it.

“Ah, here we go. An order, it just popped up on my app!” says Cayden Berkmoyer, a driver at Sprig, one of the many food tech startups popping up in San Francisco. We’re in his car, and in the backseat is a big bag full of assorted boxed lunches. Here’s how Sprig works: When you place an order, an algorithm sends it to the nearest driver.  

“The order is for Tanya,” Berkmoyer says, reading off his app — she ordered a kale granola salad. With that, he starts his car and is on his way.

Sprig is like a San Francisco–style restaurant, only on wheels. Lunch is $9, and the food is mostly organic, the meat hormone-free. The startup won’t say if it’s profitable or how many meals it serves a day. But it’s looking to expand into more cities, says Nate Keller, Sprig’s executive chef.

“Sprig is a company whose mission is to bring healthy food to the masses,” Keller says.

And Sprig thinks it can do this by using technology, which will cut out waste and allow it to compete with big restaurants on price while still offering healthier options.

Kent Bennett with Bessemer Venture Partners says, in the past, tech investors stayed away from food.

“The challenges are immense,” he says. “Most of the companies we invest in move ones and zeros around, and food tech companies, you’re moving heirloom tomatoes around. You know, they start to rot the second they come off the vine.”

And rotting food, a big problem in the restaurant industry, is money down the drain. But Bennett says with the tech boom, investors are giving food another look.

“This is a trillion-dollar market. There’s no category of software that even begins to approach that number,” Bennett says. “And there’s a lot of pain in the food space, whether it’s health and wellness or affordability.”

And Bennett says venture capitalists are betting that startups can use mobile computing and big data to take away some of the pain, and take on traditional food companies. 

Artistic inspiration or piracy?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 02:00

Jeff Koons’ retrospective show at the Whitney Museum of Art is a grand testimonial to his work over the decades. It is also “a time capsule for copyright law,” says Andrew Gilden, teaching fellow at Stanford University Law School. 

Standing in front of a sculpture of an elderly couple holding eight blue, adorable puppies entitled “String of Puppies,” Gilden points out that Koons was sued in 1992 over this very sculpture. The artist had re-created a photograph taken by photographer Art Rogers and, juxtaposing it with other sculptures in his series, was trying to comment on the banality of the images we are bombarded with in daily life. Rogers sued, alleging that Koons’ sculpture amounted to stealing. 

Koons lost.

“The court looked at the sculpture, looked at the photo, and said they’re similar, it’s piracy,” says Gilden. “Doesn’t matter if he had some grander purpose.” 

Back in 1992, “the court hated his work,” says Amy Adler, professor of law at NYU. “They saw him as involved in the business of art, saw him as a pirate, talked about how much money he made from the work, and he lost rather spectacularly.” Koons had to settle two other lawsuits on similar grounds.

Fast forward to 2006, Koons was sued yet again for using another artist’s work, this time in a collage.

Koons won. 

What changed?

The Supreme Court intervened in 1994 to say it’s OK to copy art if the new work is "transformative."

“Does the work have a new purpose or character, has it altered the previous work with new meaning or message?” says Adler. “Whether the new work was transformative is the key to the test.”

Other considerations still listed in the 1976 copyright law receded in importance. These included the effect of the copying on a potential market for (or value of) the copyrighted work, and the extent, the nature and the purpose of the copying. 

This, argues Gilden, has created a problem. 

“This shift in fair use has predominantly protected big name defendants who appropriate from small name artists.” Gilden says in most visual art copyright cases in the past 10 years, the wealthier more famous artist has won. They’ve won defending against claims they copied someone else’s work, and they’ve won pursuing others for copying their work. Gilden argues this is because courts, like people, think of famous and non-famous art differently.

“We have a hard time thinking of prominent artistic works as being raw, as being the building blocks for something better.”

While cases like those of Jeff Koons or Richard Prince “might seem to open up the doors to more sharing and accommodation of sharing, copying, appropriation art, it does not,” says Gilden. The law around fair use is still vague, and the expense of challenging if one is found guilty of copying is immense. And, adds Gilden, “Other less prominent artists have lost in situations similar to Koons’.”

William Fisher, who teaches Intellectual Property law at Harvard Law School, offers another explanation for the disproportionate success of the wealthy and famous: “Wealthy artists are much more likely to be sued than poorer artists because they have deeper pockets.” On the other hand, “Other features of copyright law do unfortunately bias the system in favor of more wealthy and sophisticated defendant artists.” 

First off, he says, “The unpredictability of the fair use system means you have to hire a lawyer in order to mount a defense, and lawyers are expensive.” The federal litigation system also now gives plaintiffs the opportunity to conduct very expensive discovery in the course of litigation, “which is financially burdensome for anyone.” Lastly, remedies and damages, if one loses a copyright case, can be immense. 

The unpredictability of copyright cases is one of Adler’s primary criticisms: “One of the worries that I think we should all have about the extremely chaotic and uncertain area of fair use law is it will force artists to steer clear of engaging in work they should otherwise be able to do for fear of getting sued, and that applies to all artists rich or poor.”

ATM fees continue to rise

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 02:00

Using the ATM can be convenient, and banking industry consultant Bert Ely says that when it comes to out-of-network fees, ease is where the problem begins.

“First of all, ATM machines are getting more sophisticated,” he says.

According to Ely, maintaining and upgrading ATMs to handle fancy new features, like video tellers, costs banks a lot of money. Meanwhile, low interest rates have kept profits down. 

“So, they look elsewhere for income,” he says.

They look, for instance, to out-of-network ATM fees. A new study from Bankrate.com and data from other research shows average out-of-network fees are up between 2.5 and 5 percent over last year. So while your bank might not be charging you, it's instead slapping customers from other banks with fees when they use its ATMs.

“The reality is it’s better for them to charge other banks' customers, than their own more," says Jim Miller, senior director of banking with market research company J.D. Power.

Miller says that unlike with overdraft fees, at least using another bank’s ATM is a choice — albeit, an expensive one.

So where are you likeliest to pay the most? Here are the five cities that have the highest ATM fees, on average:

1. Phoenix, AZ: $4.96

Alan Stark/Flickr

2. Denver, CO: $4.75

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

3. San Diego, CA: $4.70

Justin Brown/Flickr

4. Houston, TX: $4.67

Adam Baker/Flickr

5. Milwaukee, WI: $4.66

Joseph A/Flickr

 

Modi visit throws spotlight on Indian-Americans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 02:00

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, is currently visiting the U.S. He’ll meet with President Obama Monday, but he also appeared before a sold-out crowd of nearly 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday, which speaks in part to the strength and enthusiasm of the Indian-American community.

Officially, there are more than 3 million Indian-Americans in the U.S. and — as a group — they’ve been largely successful.

Their median household income is roughly $100,000 — about double that of the rest of the population — according to 2013 American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Part of this comes down to education,” says Milan Vaishnav, an associate in the South Asia Program with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “I think nearly three-quarters of Indians who are coming to the United States already had a bachelor’s degree,” he says.

Many gain access to the U.S. on skills-based visas and enter fields like software, engineering, medicine, and finance.

Not all support Modi politically, but the visit is a chance to express national pride, says Vaishnav.

Over the last decade, Indian-Americans have become increasingly politically active, says John Echeverri-Gent, a professor at the University of Virginia.

“This is a group that in terms of its political lobby is really coming of age,” he says. In particular, Indian-Americans are increased in pushing for stronger ties between the U.S. and their home country, as well as immigration reform.

But Indian-Americans should not be seen as a monolith, says Suman Raghunathan, the executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together.

“Part of what the per capita numbers don’t fully portray is the incredible economic and socioeconomic diversity we see in the Indian-American population,” she explains, noting an increasing number of Indians in the U.S. who are undocumented or are here on temporary visas. 

Pages