National News

Scientists Keep A Careful Eye On The World Cup Ball

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 23:38

After a botched redesign in 2010 caused the ball to behave erratically, independent scientists have carefully studied the new ball.

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CDC Says Dozens Of Workers Could Have Been Exposed To Anthrax

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 15:51

The live anthrax bacteria may have become airborne as lab workers were transferring it from one facility to another without following the correct procedure for rendering it inert, the CDC says.

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Songwriter Gerry Goffin, With Hits In The 60s And 70s, Dies At 75

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 14:48

Along with his musical partner and onetime wife, Carole King, he wrote such Top 40 hits as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."

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House Republicans' Top Leadership Gets A Red-State Member

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 13:54

While California Rep. Kevin McCarthy was picked as the new House majority leader, more conservative members got someone closer to their ideological and regional liking for the majority whip position.

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Largest U.S. Presbyterian Denomination OKs Marrying Gay Couples

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 13:54

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has voted to change its definition of marriage to "two people" and allow its pastors to officiate at same-sex weddings in states where such marriages are legal.

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Saddam's Ex-Officer: We've Played Key Role In Helping Militants

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 13:40

Sunni militants of ISIS have raised their black flags in towns they've captured in northern Iraq. But they've had help from, and share a goal with, former members of Saddam Hussein's security forces.

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No, companies don't usually fire their founders

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-19 13:37

Chopping off the head of the person who started it all is risky, so boards and investors are often slow to oust the founders of their companies.

"Almost always the decision is made to oust a founder when it just becomes intolerable," says Dave Logan, a management consultant who also teaches at USC's business school, "The amount of evidence, the amount of risk just reaches that overwhelming point."

Even so, it's not easy to fire a founder.

"Usually the founder owns a lot of the company's stock. Usually the founder has a lot of people who are still loyal to him or her at the company. So it's not something to be undertaken lightly," says Chris Yeh, a Silicon Valley startup investor. "There are all these fallouts that come out of ousting a founder: bad publicity, dirty laundry, potentially even lawsuits."

The company's profits and reputation have to be at great risk for a company to ax a founder. In the fashion world, American Apparel and Men's Wearhouse did so, for different reasons. But those perhaps most at risk: Young tech company founders, backed by venture capital. Dartmouth management professor Sydney Finkelstein says investors don't play around.

"They're looking for quicker returns and if they're not gonna get it, they're gonna make the tougher move, and so founder CEOs are [going to] be at bigger risk," says Finkelstein, "But it comes with the territory. If you're willing to take their money, that's part of the deal."

Groupon founder Andrew Mason learned that, but took the bullet with humor in a remarkable public goodbye letter. He started with the standard leaving to spend time with family bit and then, "Just kidding - I was fired today."

By Shea Huffman/Marketplace

Amazon wasn't the place to buy J.K. Rowling's new book

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-19 13:37

The stand-off between Amazon and publisher Hachette is complicating the release of the new Robert Galbraith (a.k.a., J.K. Rowling) novel, "The Silkworm".

Amazon didn’t allow pre-orders of the book. If you order it today, Amazon promises delivery in two to four weeks.

Meanwhile, independent stores like Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky, have taken pre-orders and have copies of "The Silkworm" for sale today.

Customers ask questions about the dispute between the publisher and Amazon. Owner Michael Boggs says, “We’ve kind of taken advantage of it by pushing Hachette books. Doing a little window of Hachette books, saying, 'You can buy these here today.’”

Big retailers like Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble are offering discounts on Hachette books in an attempt to win customers away from Amazon.

But the smaller, independent booksellers may benefit most.

“It’s a great advantage if someone doesn’t want to sell a book. Then I have the opportunity to get that sale,” says Wyatt Wergzyn, who co-owns Bookworks in Albuquerque.

Amazon tactics with Hachette have backfired in terms of public relations. Consumer Jim Dembowski used to buy a lot of books on Amazon. Now, he says, “it’s made me think twice about how much I want to patronize Amazon.”

Store owner Wergzyn is putting stickers on the books he sells. He downloaded the stickers from the website of humorist and Hachette author Stephen Colbert. The stickers read, ‘I didn’t buy it on Amazon.’

Advertising at the World Cup is a different ball game

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-19 13:37

The World Cup in Brazil is an advertising bonanza. Companies pay as much as $100 million just to be an official part of the games. But if you’ve watched any games on TV, you may have noticed one big difference from other sports events: there are very few commercial breaks.

That means few ads like Budweiser’s Puppy Love, where a dog fell for a Clydesdale. 

“The World Cup is an anomaly because you’re not getting the same type of commercials every 10 minutes, every 20 minutes," says Ben Sturner, CEO of the sports marketing firm, the Leverage Agency. 

While there are few commercial breaks, all around the Brazil stadiums are logos for international brands like Coca Cola and Adidas. There are ads on uniforms, and even on the TV screen itself. 

“Having a static ad in the background may not give you the exact messaging in a commercial ad,” Sturner says, “but you’re getting minutes and minutes of time and your brand has association at the highest level.” 

This works really well for big brands that are already well known.

“All you want is lots of exposure and lots of reminders,” says Professor Gerard Tellis, who studies advertising effectiveness at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. 

He says seeing these logos raise the probability that we’ll choose Coke over Pepsi, or McDonalds over Burger King. 

Thirty second ads have been losing effectiveness over the last few decades. It’s now about getting a viral hit online, which can also save a company a lot of money. 

That’s what headphone maker Beats by Dre managed by releasing a five-minute video online showing players arriving while wearing its headphones.

Never mind that FIFA actually banned Beats from the World Cup because only Sony paid the big bucks to be an official sponsor. The Beats video already has more than 17 million views on YouTube. 

Injured German Cave Researcher Rescued After 2-Week Ordeal

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 13:18

Johann Westhauser was hurt in a rock fall on June 8 as he and two companions were taking measurements in the Alps' Riesending cave system.

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Iraqi violence adds to the Middle East refugee crisis

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:39

An appeal launched by the United Nations High Commissioner for victims of Syria's civil war has raised only 36 percent of the $4.2 million the UNHCR requested. Another appeal, for Iraqis displaced earlier this year in Anbar province, is only 12 percent funded. And hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled their homes this month, raising fears that fatigued donors and cash-strapped donor nations might be unable to provide desperately-needed funds. 

Indians Caught In Middle Of Iraq's Worsening Crisis

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:34

India's new government faces its first major foreign policy test after the abduction of 40 Indian workers by suspected militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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GOP Completes Leadership Shuffle, As McCarthy And Scalise Step Up

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:33

House Republicans voted on leadership positions. While Rep. Kevin McCarthy stepped up to the role of majority leader, Rep. Steve Scalise overcame a more crowded competition to replace McCarthy.

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American Apparel's Founder Is Out, Tailed By Reports Of Misconduct

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

The board of American Apparel has voted to removed the company's founder and CEO, Dov Charney, from his leadership positions. The decision follows allegations of sexual misconduct against Charney.

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Ukrainian Rebels Reject Cease-Fire, As Russian Troops Line Border

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

Pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine have rejected a cease-fire plan offered by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

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Obama Plans To Send Advisers To Iraq, Leaving Air Strikes On Table

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

President Obama spoke at the White House briefing room to announce next steps in Iraq. Conditions there continue to deteriorate, along with faith in the country's prime minister.

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Obama Lays Out Iraq Proposals, But What Lies Beyond?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

Before the White House press corps Thursday, President Obama laid out his proposal for a U.S. military response in Iraq. He said he's prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to support Iraq's security forces, leaving open the possibility of targeted air strikes in the future. Melissa Block talks to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero about Obama's plan.

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Before Votes Are Fully Counted, Fraud Claims Roil Afghan Election

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

Just hours after polls closed in Afghanistan's presidential election, candidate Abdullah Abdullah claimed the vote was rigged in favor of his opponent, Ashraf Ghani.

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From Supreme Court, Firm Support For Employee In Retaliation Case

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 12:12

The justices unanimously ruled that a public employee who testified about corruption should not have been punished for doing so. Going forward, though, some tricky questions are still undecided.

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