National News

In Panama, President Obama seeks economic growth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 02:00

President Barack Obama is in Panama for the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of American heads of state. This year the leaders will be joined for the first time by Raul Castro, Cuba's leader. For years, Cuba was excluded from the summit, which created tension between Latin American leaders and the U.S. 

Disagreement over the U.S. embargo of Cuba wasn't the only gripe Latin American leaders had with U.S. policy in the region. "American presidents have a hard time paying attention to Latin America," says Moises Naim, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment.

But the Obama Administration seeks to slow the tide of illegal immigrants, so Naim says "the top priority for the United States ... is to have strong economies that produce jobs."

That's a shift from years of sending money to the region's militaries to pay for the War on Drugs. 

"The United States has moved beyond a single policy toward Latin America," said Bruce Bagley, a professor of political science at the University of Miami. But focusing on poverty alleviation in places like Honduras, which has high violence and a high level of emigration, isn't easy, because "one of the major constraints is the absence of capital and expertise," he said.

That absence of capital is one reason why cabinet member and U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet was in Panama to announce a new partnership between the SBA and ConnectAmericas, a social network for Latin American entrepreneurs. "That's how we help their youth change their future and change their lives," Contreras-Sweet says. 

LinkedIn wants to teach you stuff

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 02:00

LinkedIn, the professional networking site, is purchasing, the online video training company, in a deal worth $1.5 billion in cash and stock. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015, LinkedIn said in a press release.

"The combination of LinkedIn and is the kind of fit that benefits everyone," LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wrote in a company blog post. "LinkedIn has the members, the jobs... and... can be accessed by roughly 350 million people to share professionally relevant knowledge.'s service has the premium library of skills-based courses."

The acquisition makes sense in terms of LinkedIn's goals "to build out kind of an entire ecosystem around training, job recruitment, job hiring, talent development," says Analyst Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital Markets.

But it also has pitfalls for LinkedIn, says Colin Gillis of BGC Partners. "You're paying $1.5 billion for a business that is a subscription business and may come into pressure from free sites like YouTube."

Silicon Tally: Defending your digital life

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 02:00

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

This week, we're joined by Jason Scott, the curator of the Internet Arcade.

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Do wings give you wings?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-10 01:00
$ 1.5 billion

That's how much LinkedIn paid for, an online video training company. The huge price tag may be worth it for LinkedIn. As part of LinkedIn's broad strategic ambition, the acquisition build out an ecosystem around training, recruitment, hiring, and talent development. 

100 million

That's how many chicken wings sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings sold during this year's NCAA basketball tournament, Bloomberg reported. The Minneapolis-based company has been on an extraordinary rise, riding the fast-casual wave and adapting to volatile wing prices and crowds that come and go with sports seasons.


That's how many men and women under 25 working at the IRS. The total staff? 87,000. The IRS is trying to convince more millennials it's cool to work for the tax agency, according to Bloomberg. Four years from now, about 40 percent of its workforce will be eligible to retire. The recruiting page for student and recent grads reads, "You’ll be part of a tax collection process that funds our nation’s most vital programs—from securing the nation and protecting social services, to maintaining parklands and forests, building libraries, opening museums, enhancing schools and much, much more.” 

April 24

The hotly anticipated release of the Apple Watch. But Business Insider notes Apple is changing the way it approaches launch day, letting people try on the smart watch by appointment and encouraging them to order online. Part of this shift is practical — with so many watch combinations and price points, it could be tough to keep everything in stock — but it's also about image. Apple's new retail chief came over from Burberry, and the Watch is being sold in part as a luxury item. Long lines and tents outside of the store isn't exactly classy.

87 days

That's how long oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, spilling nearly 5 million gallons. Five years later, the Gulf's reputation for great seafood is starting to recover, but there isn't as much to sell as there used to be.

160 liters

That's how much soda the Mexican population consumes every year — or about half a liter per person per day. Mexico drinks more of this sugary stuff than anywhere else in the world. And in areas without easy access to fresh water, people more often turn to soda to quench their thirst. This trend has lead to obesity, but the Mexican government is trying to tackle it with a soda tax. 

1 Dead In Northern Illinois After Large Tornado, Authorities Say

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 22:07

Supercell thunderstorms produced a large tornado that touched down Thursday night in northern Illinois, killing one person in a tiny community as severe weather pummeled the Midwest.

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Civilians Can Record Police Encounters, But When Is It Interference?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 18:15

Courts have ruled that civilians have a constitutional right to videotape police encounters in public. But civilians are not allowed to interfere with police activity.

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Reports: State Department Recommends Removing Cuba From Terror List

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 16:55

President Obama said the State Department completed its review. The AP and Reuters are reporting that the department has recommended removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

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Who Gets To Dance In 'Swan Lake'? The Answer Is Changing

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 16:51

For the first time ever, two black dancers will star in 'Swan Lake' in a major American production. NPR's Elizabeth Blair peeks behind the curtain to see why it's been so hard for ballet to diversify.

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Man Is Shot At U.S. Census Bureau In Maryland

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 16:12

Police told media outlets that the man was guarding the gate outside the facility. Police said he had suffered "life threatening injuries."

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LinkedIn purchasing for $1.5 billion

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 15:34

Kind of a biggie in the social media professional networking space: LinkedIn said this morning it's going to spend $1.5 billion to buy,  a company that specializes in online professional training videos and tutorials.

The bet LinkedIn is making, of course, is that people will go to LinkedIn for something other than just random clicking around looking for a new job.

Which is what you guys do too, right?

LinkedIn purchasing for $1.5 billion

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 15:34

Kind of a biggie in the social media professional networking space: LinkedIn said this morning it's going to spend $1.5 billion to buy,  a company that specializes in online professional training videos and tutorials.

The bet LinkedIn is making, of course, is that people will go to LinkedIn for something other than just random clicking around looking for a new job.

Which is what you guys do too, right?

More Black, Latino Teens Say They're Online 'Almost Constantly'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 14:39

About one-third of black and Hispanic teens say they're online just about all the time, compared with about 1-in-5 whites, a new study says. Experts say smartphones are defining teens' social habits.

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Biden Says ISIS 'No Longer On The Move' In Iraq

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 13:59

NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman offers this analysis of the vice president's speech Thursday on U.S. Iraq policy.

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S.C. Dashcam Video: A Broken Tail Light, A Routine Traffic Stop, A Fleeing Man

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 13:55

North Charleston Officer Michael Slager can be seen stopping Walter Scott. Slager shot and killed Scott — an incident captured in a separate video. Slager has been charged with the killing and fired.

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On Welfare? Don't Use The Money For Movies, Say Kansas Lawmakers

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 13:50

The legislature has passed a bill that would bar people on public assistance from using cash aid on theme parks, pools and casinos, or from withdrawing more than $25 per day from the ATM.

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Brands Target Tween Girls In Bid To Keep Them As Longtime Customers

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 13:40

Brands increasingly see tweens as a distinct consumer group. From menstruation products to underwear, advertisers are targeting young girls in an informal tone to gain loyal customers earlier on.

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Study Finds The Poor Subject To Unfair Fines, Driver's License Suspensions

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 13:01

The report says many of the police and court practices highlighted in a recent federal investigation into the Ferguson, Mo., police department occur in California as well.

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Selena lives on via hologram

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 13:00

The Latin American pop star Selena Quintanilla has been dead for a couple of decades, but now her family is collaborating with a tech firm called Acrovirt to create what it's calling a 360 degree "digital embodiment" of the singer.


The hologram will be able to dance, move and interact. It will sing Selena's old repertoire, as well as new songs. The project, called Selena the One, is meant to be a cut above the hologram performances we've seen in recent years of singers like Michael Jackson or Tupac Shakur.

Media expert Aram Sinnreich at Rutgers University says there's plenty of demand from consumers to see a second life for their favorite entertainers, even if they're not really there.

Thank California for your low-flow faucet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 13:00

New water restrictions in California are imposing steep cutbacks in cities and towns across the state.

Those cutbacks are also coming to bathrooms and kitchens. New low-flow standards for fixtures like faucets and toilets are forecast to save around 10 billion gallons of water the first year, and up to 105 billion gallons per year over time, according to the California Energy Commission. 

Because of its size, California has a history of pulling industry in the direction of conservation. The new standards go into effect for toilets and urinals, but also for kitchen and bath faucets sold after January 1, 2016.

When California rolled out stricter fuel and emissions regulations for cars, the auto industry eventually adopted the guidelines for all cars. Now, many are saying the same could be true for toilets and faucets. 

"The adage is, where California goes, so goes the market," says Andy Hoffman, Faculty Director of the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute, which focuses on sustainability and business. 

Converting a standard faucet into low-flow isn’t as complex as re-engineering a car, but companies could have an incentive to market the more efficient products.

“It could also get them to bring down the cost because they are going to increase sales,” Hoffman said.  “Certainly California will be a motivated market to buy, perhaps,  waterless urinals or dual-flush toilets.”

People who don’t like low-flow faucets might be tempted to buy out of state or online, but state incentives could keep that activity to a minimum.

Others say consumers are already accustomed to efficient products, and won’t go out of their way to buy older ones. Tracy Quinn is a water policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"I don't think most consumers out there will notice the difference between a toilet that flushes with 1.6 gallons and one that flushes with 1.28," Quinn said.

Even in states that aren’t wracked by drought, Quinn notes that saving drinking water that now goes down the drain or toilet still makes financial sense, and is something she thinks consumers will want access to.

Can YouTube get us to pay for ad-free cat videos?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 13:00

Google is reportedly planning an ad-free version of its YouTube service, for which users will pay around $10 per month. Netflix has amassed millions of paying customers for its streaming video, and just this week, HBO launched a stand-alone streaming service. 

Getting users to pay for ad-free cat videos seems worth a shot, says Brian Wieser, an analyst with Pivotal Research.  "If you could sell content that costs you nothing— and charge a very premium price for that inventory — it’s worth trying, isn’t it?" 

He does think it’s a long shot. Asked whether people hate ads enough to pay a fee to skip them, Wieser called the idea “silly.”

Although lots of people pay for Netflix, he doesn’t think YouTube is real competition. 

"'House of Cards' will be meeting people building houses with cards," Wieser says.

Count Hank Green among those who think the new model is worth a shot. He earns his living making YouTube videos, and says he's got 33 employees.

His channels include Vlogbrothers, with his brother John, who wrote the best-selling young-adult novel, "The Fault in Our Stars".

Another, Crash Course, features education videos.

Hank Green says he hates advertisements.

"I much prefer the paid models to advertising models," he says. "I think advertising models are inefficient, and I hate seeing ads that are blatantly manipulative — and even deceptive — on my content."  

What’s been working for him recently is asking viewers for support directly. Not everybody has to give, he says— just enough.

"So really it’s not about creating content that everybody wants to watch," Green says. "It’s about creating content where people say, after they watch it: 'You know, I’d feel better if I paid for that.'"

It sounds suspiciously like, well, public radio.

Later, Green wrote back with a response to the "House of Cards" swipe:

"If you're one of the 5,000 super die hard card-stackers in the world," he wrote, "maybe videos of people building houses of cards is more valuable to you than House of Cards, is what I should have said."