National / International News
Liberian health worker Alexander Kollie lost his wife, daughters and brother to Ebola. Then his son tested positive for the disease. He survived, and now father and son are building a new life.
The million-plus healthy residents of Liberia's capital, Monrovia, are doing their best to maintain their lives in a city where Ebola has killed more than 1,300.
Female executives are a rarity in the energy industry. But Lynn Good, CEO of Duke Energy, took the helm of the utility giant just as it was grappling with some very public challenges.
A pioneer in selling organic, sustainable groceries, Whole Foods now finds itself beset by competitors. So it's launching its first national ad blitz to sell socially conscious consumers on its story.
About 75,000 patients a year die from infections they caught in the hospital. A Kaiser Health News analysis finds that nearly 700 hospitals across the nation have higher than expected infection rates.
The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction found that despite U.S. counternarcotics efforts, poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record high in 2013.
The Golden Arches are losing their luster - McDonald's reported that its profits fell by 30 percent.
McDonald’s problems right now are complicated, says Jennifer Bartashus, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. She says we should start by looking at the company's target market.
“The customer profile still remains people who are in the lower income, lower-middle-income bracket,” Bratashus says.
These folks haven’t recovered from the recession and are still looking for bargains. McDonald’s problem? Meat and cheese prices are rising, which means its prices are too.
At the same time, McDonald’s is also trying to respond to changing consumer tastes by adding healthier, more expensive options - like salads and parfaits - to its menu.
“They’ve tried to be something for everyone as opposed to being everything for some people,” Bratashus says.
“I think the perception among many consumers is that it’s a fresher product and better quality,” Goldin says of the rival chains. He adds that these restaurants often cost just a few bucks more than some of the meals you find at McDonald's.
John Gordon is an analyst at Pacific Management Consulting Group and he says McDonald’s is losing ground with another group: millennials. He says they like restaurants that let you customize your order. And McDonald's has missed this trend, in part, because of its corporate culture.
“They’re such an insular group,” Gordon says. “They tend to think more about what the corporation wants rather than maybe what the customer wants.”
McDonald's' CEO Don Thompson admitted the company has to play catch-up. It’s starting by piloting menus that let you build your own burger at a few Southern California restaurants.
As we discovered, McDona'd strategy has... changed... over time. These needed to go somewhere:
Age starting dance: 13
Height: 5 feet 2 inches
Bust: "Bigger than most"
At least, that's how ballerina Misty Copeland describes her numbers-defying career in dance. A soloist with the American Ballet Theater in New York, Copeland recently explained how she doesn't really fit into the traditional model for ballet, but still made it work.
“All of those numbers, they just don’t add up to create a classical dancer,” she says. "No matter what, I'm going to be who I am."
Listen to the full conversation from our live show in New York City in the audio player above.
One Florida mom started a petition calling on the retailer to stop selling action figures based on drug dealers in its stores. Toys R Us had said the Breaking Bad toys were meant for adults.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging drivers of more than 4.7 million cars to get their air bags fixed immediately. The warning affects various models manufactured by Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, BMW and GM, ranging between the years 2000-2007 for most, and to 2011 for the Honda Element.
You can look up your car by VIN number to see if it is affected.
The warning is mostly of recalls that have been previously issued, but the safety agency took the unusual step of issuing an alert to get drivers who may be complacent about recalls to pay attention.
"Responding to these recalls is essential for their personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation," David Friedman, deputy administrator of the agency, said in a statement. "At this point, the issue appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures."
Humidity can apparently destabilize the explosives that are part of the airbag system and are used to quickly inflate the bags in an accident. That could cause apparently defective air bags manufactured by the Japanese supplier Takata, which were installed by 11 automakers worldwide, to explode and send shrapnel at drivers.
Investigators are looking into four deaths that could be linked to the defect. And officials are focusing their recall efforts first on humid regions of the country, including Florida and Hawaii.
"Safety is our top priority and we want to ensure that consumers respond to the 2013 and 2014 regional recalls," Friedman said.
Globally, the airbag recalls date from 2008 and involve 14 million vehicles — the sheer scale of which has overwhelmed recall efforts.
"It complicates things because so many manufacturers and models are affected when one supplier supplies that many cars," says Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
Takata is the second largest of only a handful of airbag suppliers.
Adding to that complication, Takata has not had to supply a huge stock of replacement parts, says Nerad, because air bags are designed to be installed in a vehicle and never be touched again.
"So it doesn't make sense that there be tons of replacement parts out there, because these air bag systems are typically not replaced," Nerad says.
Now that they have to be replaced at such a large scale, it's been difficult for car companies to keep up. Toyota is temporarily disabling passenger-side airbags in some cars and urging customers not to drive affected cars until the airbags are replaced.
The difficulties with the recalls stem from auto companies' reliance on a few suppliers for their parts. That's because there has been a consolidation of auto parts suppliers over the last 20 years, says Micheline Maynard, author of the books "Curbing Cars" and "The End of Detroit."
"Suppliers were fighting each other for business, and undercutting each other on prices, and literally were going out of business, because they couldn't build products cheap enough," Maynard says.
And while that's been good for surviving companies, it's also led to huge market exposure, as Takata is now finding out. The company says it expects a net loss of $220 million in the current fiscal year.
China’s GDP increased by only 7.3 percent in the third quarter this year. While that's a figure many countries would kill to have, it’s relatively slow for China – in fact, it’s the lowest quarterly figure in five years.
Of course, China’s not alone; Europe is in the midst of a slowdown, too. So which stalling economy is a greater threat to our own, here in the U.S.? On the one hand, China is the world’s second largest economy, but Europe is an important trading partner.
“If I was picking, I’d be picking Europe,” says Kent Smetters, professor of business economics and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Smetters says Europe tends to purchase high-margin goods from the U.S., such as machines.
“With China, not only is it a much smaller trading relationship, the margins that we get with what we’re trading is a lot different,” he says. “Our biggest export, for example, is soy beans.”
Slower economic growth in China matters to the U.S. less than a slowdown Europe, agrees Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. In addition to exports, Europe can also impact our stock markets, he says.
“Things look depressed in Europe,” he says. “So European shares are cheaper, so that’s going to ripple over U.S. shares because some investors will say, ‘Well, let’s buy those cheap European shares instead of the more expensive U.S. shares.’”
Hufbauer says Europe has been dragged down by the debt of its countries and a lack of agreement about how to combat sluggish growth. He doesn’t expect that to change any time soon.
On the other hand, China’s slowdown is at least partially by design of its leaders, says Nicholas Consonery, the Asia director at the Eurasia Group. So while many investors are fearful of the slowdown, he says, “It’s very clear that transitioning into a phase of slower, more sustainable growth is a healthy – and not just healthy, but also necessary adjustment for China.”
Consonery says a more stable China, with stronger consumer spending, could actually be good for the U.S. in the long term.
In northern Iraq, Kurdish fighters have won back territory from the so-called Islamic State only to lose it again. ISIS is using a range of explosives, inflicting heavy Kurdish casualties.