National / International News
The agency says it's now spending record amounts on fire suppression, and these bills are coming at the expense of its other programs — many of which would help prevent future wildfires.
The long-time coach of the New York Islanders won four Stanley Cup championships with the team — after winning four as a player.
Markets have been seeing some of the biggest stock-price swings in years. And economists say the extreme volatility is starting to weigh down consumer confidence.
Around the newsroom and around the world, here's what we're reading this week.
Pilots and their families planted a tree at Arlington National Cemetery, and honored comrades who were killed in the war.
More than 1,000 square miles of wildfires are burning in the state. In the isolated Okanogan Valley, where power and phone lines have burned, cattle ranchers are doing what they can to spare herds.
Until now, if you wanted to advertise on Instagram, you were kind of boxed in.
"You needed to receive prior approval from Instagram and have rather lofty budgets in order to be appearing on their platform," says Nate Carter, managing director with eEffective, an ad agency trading desk.
This fall, Instagram is planning to open its app to all advertisers. And that’s one reason the company is changing its format beyond the traditional square box. It wants to be more flexible, in part, so advertisers can repurpose the ads they use on TV.
Already, one of every five pictures and videos posted on Istagram is not square. There are a number of apps designed to get around Instagram’s format.
“People have been trying to game the system already,” says Wally Krantz, an executive creative director at the branding firm Landor.
Legend has it that Instagram uses the square because Kevin Systrom, the company’s founder, used a Holga camera in college that took square photos.
“Traditionally, if you think of Rolleiflex cameras and Hasselblads,” Krantz says, the images were square.
Some are already regretting Instagram's move away from the classic format. Bret Hansen, a creative director with global branding firm siegel+gale, says fiddling with that look could be risky. “By changing it up, they’re kind of diluting their brand image a little bit.”
Still, says Carter, if Instagram manages to bring in more advertisers by dropping its box, it stands to make billions. It's pretty simple, he says, “it’s no longer hip to be square.”
Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are Nela Richardson from Redfin and the Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy. The big topics this week: stock market fluctuations, possible peril in China's economy, a 20-percent jump in oil prices and what is Janet Yellen thinking?
Europe's refugee and migrant crisis appears to be getting worse by the day. In Austria, a truck found full of decomposed bodies is now believed to have held 71 people, including 12 women and children. The police say they were likely refugees from Syria. And an estimated 150 people drowned off the coast of Libya when a boat enroute to Italy sank.
Most of these people would not have even started their journey were it not for the fact that so many people want to get into the people-smuggling business. These shadowy entrepreneurs create and maintain the routes to Europe's borders and beyond. They are rarely masterminds controlling an entire route. Rather, they mostly make up a network middlemen who charge refugees a toll along the way. The costs add up quickly. Which means that in many cases, only people of a certain means can even afford the attempted trip.
On the Greek island of Lesbos, refugees who survive a harrowing boat ride from Turkey have reason to celebrate.
“We tried two times to come here,” one unnamed refugee says. “The first time they let us come back to Turkey and the second one we succeed.”
She’s still got a long way to go – through Greece, and then on to Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. And at each point, she may have to strike a deal with a different smuggler. Often the middleman trick refugees, by offering teaser rates and then racking up the bill.
“They start little and then on the way they make you pay more and more,” UN refugee agency spokesman Babar Baloch says from the Hungarian border. “If you don’t pay here, you don’t pay there, then you are going to end up like this and like that.”
Often the price of transport varies, depending on the traveler. In Libya, across the Mediterranean from Italy, boat smugglers charge Syrians the most, upwards of a thousand dollars.
“The Libyans consider Syrians the most affluent of all the migrants,” says Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration in Geneva. “They will be charging top dollar to put them on a boat to Italy, all the way down to, say, a West African from Mali or Togo might be charged 400 Euros.”
That’s about 450 dollars. But before you board a life-threatening fishing boat ride, you have to get yourself to a North African port. For many, that requires a trip across the Sahara Desert. Patrick Kingsley, migration reporter at the Guardian newspaper says that's when refugees or migrants are particularly vulnerable.
“The way that they pay is by being kidnapped and essentially held for ransom,” Kingsley says. “It’s very common for the smugglers to put a phone to their lips while they are being tortured. And they are forced to call their families, who then have to wire money to the smugglers. It might be one thousand dollars, it might be much more. It just depends on how much they think your family is worth."
Kingsley says a migrant taking an African route to Europe may encounter five stages of smuggler payments. And the migrant may pay multiple times at every one of those stages. To drivers, militiamen, boat owners and border guards.
I spoke with Kingsley for more than half an hour about the business of smuggling refugees. It was a fascinating conversation. You can hear the entire interview below: