National News

Weekend Brunch: The NFL's future, changing the climate and whither Olive Garden?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 12:39

Joe Weisenthal from Business Insider and FT’s Shannon Bond chat about the week’s news. Click play above to hear them break down the NFL in pop culture and the market effects of climate change.

This weekend’s reading list:

New York Times: Roger Goodell Says N.F.L. Will Overhaul Personal Conduct Policy

Daily Beast: Capitalism Is Saving the Climate, You Hippies

Salon: Wall Street won’t save the world: Why “free-market solutions” are a recipe for disaster

Bloomberg Businessweek: A Hedge Fund's 294-Page Recipe for Fixing Olive Garden

As The Ebola Outbreak Worsens, A Book About Compassion

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-26 12:11

This week, the CDC predicted there could be tens of thousands of Ebola cases if the disease is not controlled soon. Author Alaya Dawn Johnson turns to a favorite novel for wisdom amid this epidemic.

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Florida's Manatees: Big, Beloved And Bitterly Contested

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-26 12:11

In one coastal community, some residents are trying to get manatees off the endangered species list. But manatee advocates say the sea cows, threatened by ecotourism, need more protection, not less.

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The Ebola Survivor Who Works In An Ebola Ward

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-26 12:03

When the 23-year-old Sierra Leonean tells patients to follow their doctors' orders and to keep fighting, they really listen.

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Oklahoma Police Ask FBI To Investigate Beheading Incident

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-26 11:37

A man, who police say recently tried to convert co-workers to Islam, allegedly severed the head of one of his colleagues after he was fired from his job.

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Gilligan's Island At 50: A Goofy Show From A Time Of TV Innocence

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-26 11:35

As classic sitcom Gilligan's Island celebrates its 50th birthday, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says it is an example of a show much loved by fans despite widely acknowledged mediocrity.

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Your Wallet: Getting financial aid, and getting out

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 10:16

This week, we learned that defaults on federal student loans declined in 2013 for the first time in years. 13.7 percent of student borrowers defaulted on payments after they started coming due, that’s about a point lower than last year. But defaults are still far above what they were before the recession. Student loans can be scary and emotional… but key to getting an education.

How would you redesign student financial aid?

Here's what students at the University of Southern California had to say.

Thai Leader Threatens New Takeover: The TV Soaps

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-26 09:57

Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha says he's ordered a complete rewrite of Thailand's daily fare of infidelity and violence, and if it's not done right, he's threatened to do the job himself.

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A Concert With Jay-Z (And India's Leader) Aims To End Poverty

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-26 09:32

The Global Citizen Festival is live in New York (and on TV) on Saturday. The superstar-studded event is designed to encourage concertgoers to care about the issues as well as the celebrities.

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Will .Health Make It More Likely That You'll Get Scammed?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-26 08:55

New websites ending in "health," "doctor" and "clinic" will soon start appearing online. But anyone can buy those names. Some public health researchers worry that they'll purvey bogus medical advice.

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The numbers for September 26, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 08:20

The news has been dominated this week by U.S.-led airstrikes on ISIS compounds in Syria, and today is no different. After a seven-hour debate, the U.K. parliament voted Friday to take military action against extremist groups in Iraq, the BBC reported. After being recalled by Prime Minister David Cameron, Parliament supported airstrikes beginning as early as Sunday, in a 524-43 vote.

Here's what we're reading — and some other numbers we're watching — Friday:

25 percent

The portion of auto loans made last year that are considered subprime — a number that has jumped in the last five years, and caught the attention of federal regulators. There's a side effect of this new subprime boom: More cars are being outfitted with a device allowing lenders to shut the engine down remotely if the owner misses a payment. These devices have become more and more common, the New York Times reported, and borrowers are raising serious safety concerns.


That's how many requests the much-hyped, invite-only social networking site Ello was getting every hour on Thursday, BetaBeat reported. Ello has billed itself as a sort of anti-Facebook, pledging to stay ad-free and never sell user data. The site's staff was blindsided by the high traffic and considered temporarily freezing account creation, but resolved to limit new users to about five to ten invites instead. 

50 percent

Half of all mercury found in public water treatment plants comes from discarded dental fillings, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday. To reduce waste, the EPA is pushing for dentist offices to use special devices that pull bits of mercury from water before it goes down the drain, the National Journal reported.


Surprise album releases are the new endlessly hyped album releases. Thom Yorke just put out a new solo record, "Tomorrow's Modern Boxes," on BitTorrent for $6. That model is meant as an experiment, Pitchfork reported. Yorke's band Radiohead has done stuff like this before, self-releasing new music through a pay-what-you like model, surprise announcements and even an iOS app.

Why We Won't See The Likes Of Eric Holder Again

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-26 08:11

The drama and conflict of the attorney general's tenure in office unfolded against the interracial tensions that torment our culture.

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PODCAST: The price of AC cools down

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 03:00

First up, there's news that Bill Gross — the man who built California-based PIMCO into one of the biggest money managers in the world — is moving to rival Janus, effective immediately. In what must be an overstatement, PIMCO's biggest shareholder called this a "Black Swan Event," something so unlikely it wasn't worth even thinking about. We look into what has been the talk of financial markets this morning. Plus, 100 years ago, the Federal Trade Commission was born when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Trade Commission Act into law. Since then, the agency has played an outsize role in the U.S. economy, and it's fair to say it's affected all of us. And as Marketplace celebrates its 25th birthday this year, we are looking at the surprising,  sometimes delightful and sometimes destructive ways that prices have changed during that quarter century. Today, we chill out with a look at the price of AC units, and what their changing costs say about how energy consumption has evolved.

U.S. government releases a second revision of GDP

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 03:00

The U.S. government released a second revision to its key measure of economic growth for the spring quarter early Friday. GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.6 percent. Nearly every category, barring consumer spending, was up. Americans, at least last spring, were still leery of splashing out on big purchases, other than health care. Gross national product and later gross domestic product are the accepted indicators of economic health, but a growing body of scholarly research suggests we can do better.

The skepticism around GDP and GNP as measures of well-being goes back decades, and is present in an iconic speech delivered by Senator Robert Kennedy at the University of Kansas in 1968.

“The Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play,” Kennedy said. “It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages.”

And while GDP is easily measurable — an important characteristic for an economic indicator — growth can be deceptive.

“If we have higher divorce rates in a country, then you have lots more money being spent on legal services,” said Julia Kirby, an editor of the Harvard Business Review. “That looks good in GDP, but at a societal level, you wouldn’t say that’s good."   

Kirby says better measures of well-being include whether a country’s population is healthy, educated, happy and getting enough sleep at night. 

Silicon Tally: India is anti-‘Gravity’

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 02:30

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by Joe Hanson, a science writer and host of the PBS digital series "It’s Okay to be Smart."

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Taking patient ‘happiness’ more seriously

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 02:00

It's a great time to be in the hospitality industry... if you want to go into health care.

In case you haven't noticed, health care is becoming more consumer-focused by the day, and in a fight for our business, insurers and health care providers are hunting for executives whose business is customer service — making sure once we walk through the door, we stay.

Deedra Hartung with Cejka Executive Search says hospitals are starting to pay top dollar for "patient experience officers."

"The right background for a Chief Experience Officer can range up to approximately $250,000," she says.

The Chief Experience Officer is responsible for what you'd expect: making sure a patient feels good about their hospital stay. The challenge for health care providers, says Hartung, is to understand "what makes one facility more comfortable for a patient than another."

Hospital executives struggle to answer the question Hartung raises. Clearly, as long as prices remain hidden and it's nearly impossible to assess quality, the industry will have a customer service crisis on its hands. But with patient satisfaction scores now tied to hospital bonuses (and penalties), some health care organizations have started to take steps to improve the patient experience.

It starts with snapping up executives like Fabian Marechal, who runs Penn Medicine's new Musculoskeletal Center. Marechal's pedigree is impeccable; he cut his teeth with Marriott and Ritz-Carlton.

"You know, in my practices, you won't see magazines that are two years old or dead plants," he says, laughing. But Marechal's not joking.

Marechal says he's learned a lot from his time in the hospitality sector — one of the most important lessons is that people must feel cared for. So frontline staff greet customers like a doorman or concierge at the Ritz, and walk them over to the kiosk to help with registration. It's a little thing, Marechal concedes, but with big symbolic value.

"I think all of this helps patients be more engaged in their care. [It shows] people are going to listen to me, people are going to acknowledge me. It changes your mindset from the get-go. You are more open and you feel more safe and secure to listen to your caregiver," he says. Another lesson Marechal picked up along the way: Better customer service can turn that new customer into a repeat customer.

Health insurers have every incentive under the sun to improve their customer service. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans have begun to shop online through the public exchanges for their insurance coverage, and this may be the wave of the future for many Americans. The firm that makes online insurance shopping easy — okay, as easy as it can be — will have a significant advantage over its competitors.

Aetna's Dijuana Lewis, whom the insurance company hired away from Wal-Mart, says the message is clear.

"It's all about knowing the customer, what the customer wants and how they want it. Health care hasn't really been approached that way," she says. It sounds simple, and it can be.
But Harvard's Ashish Jha has seen plenty of missteps in the industry's rush to "know their customers."

"I've seen a lot of hospitals that have made big investments in things like having a pianist in the lobby of the hospital," he says. But pianos are easy. Jha says the hard work — the work that wins consumer loyalty — is training staff to better connect with their patients, and sticking with it long enough to change the culture.

Maybe, Jha says, an infusion of hospitality executives will bring that kind of dedication and a bit more humanity to health care.

Happy 100th, FTC

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 02:00

One hundred years ago Friday, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Trade Commission Act into law, creating the agency of the same name. Since then, the FTC has played an outsize role in the U.S. economy, affecting all of us.

The commission's mandate is "to prevent business practices that are anticompetitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers."

"I don't think the mission of the FTC has changed really at all," says David Thomas, who worked for the agency in the early 2000s. What has changed over the last century is the agency's focus — from monopolies during the Progressive Era to deceptive advertising and privacy issues.

"When new issues arise in the American economy, the FTC has the tools to deal with them," says Bill MacLeod, chair of the antitrust practice group at the law firm Kelley Drye. He says the commission pays a lot of attention to technology, data security and virtual currencies, like Bitcoin. "The FTC today is as different as the means and media of communication are today," MacLeod says.

The commission still has to approve mergers — that is a responsibility it shares with the Department of Justice. And right now it's considering some big ones, including Zillow and Trulia, and Sysco's proposed merger with US Foods.

Unhappy workers are retaliating digitally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 02:00

Not every cyberattack is an outside job. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned this week of an increase in attacks against businesses by current and former employees — disruptions that can cost companies millions of dollars to address.

So how does it happen?

Say a worker is fired. Escorted out. Email shut down. Her old company could still be vulnerable to digital retaliation, like the destruction of data or the theft of proprietary information.

Cameron Camp, a security researcher with ESET North America, says IT workers in particular tend to have a backdoor login.

“It would be like trying to get into your old apartment,” he says. “You know which key gets in to the back way that nobody else knows about. And you also know the lay of the land.”

The FBI did not provide data on how many companies have had their networks disrupted by disgruntled or former employees. It did say it can cost companies thousands, even millions of dollars to repair damage from stolen data, to add network countermeasures and to purchase credit monitoring services for employees and customers in the aftermath of a data breach.

You don’t have to be an IT professional to create that kind of damage, though. The FBI is warning that the business use of personal email and cloud storage websites, like Dropbox, make theft easier. Think how often we exchange work information through informal channels.

“When you have company resources flowing through systems that are not under company control, when somebody leaves they still have access,” says Dan Kaminsky, chief scientist of the anti-fraud firm White Ops.

Security researcher Cameron Camp says companies should have single sign-in systems. That means employees log in the same way for everything, including email, remote access and even cloud properties. That way all access can be shut down at once.

There’s another thing companies can do, he adds.

“Be nice to your employees.”

Plus, that’s free.




The price of AC units has cooled down

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-26 01:30

As Marketplace celebrates its 25th birthday this year, we are looking at the surprising, sometimes delightful and sometimes destructive ways that prices have changed during that quarter century.

A 1989 Sears catalog reveals that a medium capacity window air conditioner (in '80s-style faux-wood paneling) could be had for around $300. Factor in inflation, and that's about $575 in today's dollars. An equivalent 8000 BTU window AC unit, again Kenmore, today goes for just $219.

But what about the cost of running an AC unit? In the most recent period when stats are available, people on average spent $237 a year on electricity specifically for AC cooling. This includes the whole country, rich and poor, hot climates and cold. In 1989, adjusted for inflation, people spent $321 on power for the AC. In other words, the average household is paying less now for AC than in 1989.

So here's the concern when it comes to household budgets and climate change: When something like this gets so much cheaper, it changes our behavior. But how?

Click the media player above to hear Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio talk about what inflation can tell us about how we use energy.

Photos: Jeter Leaves Yankee Stadium With One Last Game-Winning Hit

NPR News - Thu, 2014-09-25 21:11

Derek Jeter has gone out a winner in his final game at Yankee Stadium. His single in the ninth inning propelled the Yankees over Baltimore 6-5 Thursday night.

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