National / International News

Why gold is losing its luster for investors

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-21 13:00

The price dipped to a five-year low Monday. What caused the fall?

“Gold has totally fallen out of bed over the couple of days,” says Colin Cieszynski with CMC Markets. “There’s a number of factors that drive gold up and down over time and at the moment [for] all of them, the pendulum has swung to being a headwind for gold rather than a tailwind.”

People tend buy gold in times of uncertainty, as it’s supposed to be a safe haven and a hedge against inflation. But inflation fears are now down and – from Greece to Iran – uncertainty appears to be easing. Additionally, U.S. interest rates are expected to rise, which also puts pressure on gold.

“It’s like we’ve turned the corner, that there’s going to be continued growth in the future and the interest rates can go back to normal levels,” says Campbell Harvey, a finance professor at Duke University. “All of this implies that there’s less risk, there’s less fear, there’s less reason to hoard gold.”

Harvey views gold's movement over recent days as relatively minor, in line with normal volatility for the precious metal. He also points to recent news that China is buying less gold for its reserves than previously thought. That lower demand translates to lower prices.

Additionally, supply has increased as the amount of gold being mined continues to increase, says Erik Norland, senior economist at the CME Group, a derivatives exchange. Unlike other precious metals, he says, there isn’t much use for the yellow metal coming out of the ground.

“Platinum, palladium, silver — they have very extensive industrial uses,” Norland says, noting silver is used in electronics while lots of gold just sits in vaults as an investment. 

Long-shot candidates reap benefits after race

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-21 13:00

With Ohio Governor John Kasich today entering the race for the GOP presidential nomination, the total number of major contenders has risen to 16. There are also five major candidates on the Democratic side.

A lot of them are long shots, whether due to lack of name recognition, lack of financial support, or low numbers in the polls.

But long-shot candidates have a reason to be optimistic. For one, sometimes they win. "Our current president being an example of one, where somebody comes out of nowhere," says Lance Strate, professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University.

The reason for so many long-shot candidates in this election cycle is that campaigns are getting better at organizing online and through social media, Strate says. "A political campaign can get started with a relatively small amount of resources to begin with, and then take off," he says.

Even if candidates don't win, or even get their party's nomination, they can still benefit by improving their name recognition, says Larry Sabato, who heads the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "You can increase speaking fees. You may very well be offered a TV or radio contract," he says.

A bridge in the desert is washed out, and I-10 closes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-21 13:00

A key conduit for moving goods east from ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California was choked off when heavy rains Sunday washed out part of a bridge in the desert between Los Angeles and Phoenix. Some officials in Riverside, California say the standing portion of the bridge could reopen soon, but it turns out that even when a bridge falls in the middle of nowhere, the costs rack up quickly. 

The bridge that collapsed was on a remote stretch of Interstate 10, far from any town. But it's a key passageway for truckers hauling consumer goods from Asia out of California ports.

"I-10 is a major east-west corridor between California and certainly to Texas and other places in between," says Rob Field, who manages  the economic development agency for Riverside County. He says state transportation officials are pledging to re-open the part of the bridge that's still standing to two-way traffic, perhaps within a few days. But the longer the bridge is closed, the greater the economic pain.

"It's hard to put a dollar value on it without drilling down, but we're talking millions of dollars in impact, not hundreds of thousands," Field says.

Every day about 7,000 trucks pass over the span, which crosses a dry wash. The head of the Arizona Trucking Association, Tony Bradley, says it's no easy task to reroute them while the bridge is out of commission. He says the closest options might add as much as three hours to a trip, since there are essentially no local roads that trucks can use.

Since truckers get paid by the mile, that means higher fuel and labor costs: "You're looking at an added $1.3 million a day just for the added miles," Bradley says.

But even if the bridge reopens this week, John Benoit has concerns about bigger economic effects. He's the 4th District Supervisor in Riverside County.

"We are very concerned that other bridges maybe are even in more serious condition than this one,'' he says, "and that the entire infrastructure of our highway system is in arrears."

The governor's on the phone, he wants you to move back

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-21 13:00

Meet Max Salzburg. He’s 37, married and works in marketing. He lives with his wife Sonja in Fort Collins, Colorado, a bustling small city filled with breweries and bike aficionados. But Salzburg grew up about an hour away from here, in the much smaller town of Cheyenne, Wyoming. 

“I thought it was small,” Salzburg says. “And lame. And boring.”

Salzburg got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, but as soon as he was finished he left for city life in Colorado, where he has been ever since. That move is fairly common: young people who grew up in rural areas move away from home at a rate three and half times higher than their city counterparts, according to federal statistics.

Max Salzburg holds Wyoming regalia in his Fort Collins, Colorado home. 

Miles Bryan

But Salzburg is a little older now. He and his wife are thinking about a baby, and maybe relocating. That’s an opportunity for Wyoming and rural states like it, which desperately need skilled workers. 

So how do you convince a young, educated couple like Max and Sonja Salzburg to give up farm-to-table meals and good concerts for small-town life?

Well, if you’re South Dakota, with a robocall.

“Are you looking for a better way of life? One where the skies are blue, the air is fresh and the opportunities are limitless?” That’s South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard’s opening line in a robocall you will get if someone enters your phone number at Dakota Roots, the state’s employment matchmaking program. It allows moms or high school buddies to sign up their lost loved ones to be contacted by a job recruiter, who tries to place them back in the Mt. Rushmore state.

Dakota Roots has been around since 2006 and has placed about 4,000 people back in the state. Recently, Dakota Roots has inspired similar job-matchmaking programs Choose Idaho and Wyoming Grown

Hayley McKee works for the state and helped set up Wyoming Grown. She  says the program  got started after the state ran the numbers, and realized 60 percent of young people left Wyoming within 10 years of finishing high school. She says a lot of those young people are not going to give up city life for the open prairie, “but for those people who want to come back, who are familiar with Wyoming, I feel pretty confident we are making some strides here.”

So how do you zero in on who actually wants to come back? Here’s a hint: look for diapers.

“A strategy of trying to attract back people who are in their 30s and have children probably has the best possible chance of success,” says Professor Ken Johnson, who studies rural demographic change at the University of New Hampshire.

Johnson says there is a minor trend (emphasis on the "minor") of 30-somethings going back to their rural homes. The ones who do are usually at the point in their lives when they care less about good bars and more about good schools. Johnson says those people can be swayed by the prospect of a decent job — even if it isn’t as good as what they could get in an urban area.   

“Maybe that’s enough to push somebody who is kind of sitting on the fence to think about coming back,” Johnson says. 

Salzburg’s parents are hoping he will jump off that fence.  They encouraged him to sign up for Wyoming Grown, but Salzburg insists they are leaving it up to him. He says he’s still undecided about moving, but a kid might make up his mind.

“If we had kids and there was a good job and we could go somewhere in Wyoming with decent schools I mean... yeah,” he says. “My childhood was boring, I want my child to have that.”

Whether his kid will stick around is another question. 

Greeks see 'same culture' in new financial measures

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-21 13:00

Greece’s financial crisis improved slightly today in the wake of the bailout news. However, people in the country can’t stop talking about the continued problem, says Tonia Korka, a Greek resident and part-time research associate at the Hellenic Institute of International and Foreign Law. 

“You can hear it all over the streets. People are walking and talking about what is going on with the banks,” Korka says.

Korka says that the people in Greece are optimistic, but are still waiting for improvements. “We are hoping that something is going to change because we cannot do anything else,” she says. “but unfortunately when I hear about the measures and what they promised, I see the same culture.”

For Korka, it's hard to see how these measures are going to help. “I can’t understand how they are thinking that the economy is going to grow again if they don’t give some motives to cover the sanction,” she says. “I don’t know. It’s crazy.”

The governor's on the phone, he wants you to move back

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-21 13:00

Meet Max Salzburg. He’s 37, married and works in marketing. He lives with his wife Sonja in Fort Collins, Colorado, a bustling small city filled with breweries and bike aficionados. But Salzburg grew up about an hour away from here, in the much smaller town of Cheyenne, Wyoming. 

“I thought it was small,” Salzburg says. “And lame. And boring.”

Salzburg got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, but as soon as he was finished he left for city life in Colorado, where he has been ever since. That move is fairly common: young people who grew up in rural areas move away from home at a rate three and half times higher than their city counterparts, according to federal statistics.

Max Salzburg holds Wyoming regalia in his Fort Collins, Colorado home. 

Miles Bryan

But Salzburg is a little older now. He and his wife are thinking about a baby, and maybe relocating. That’s an opportunity for Wyoming and rural states like it, which desperately need skilled workers. 

So how do you convince a young, educated couple like Max and Sonja Salzburg to give up farm-to-table meals and good concerts for small-town life?

Well, if you’re South Dakota, with a robocall.

“Are you looking for a better way of life? One where the skies are blue, the air is fresh and the opportunities are limitless?” That’s South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard’s opening line in a robocall you will get if someone enters your phone number at Dakota Roots, the state’s employment matchmaking program. It allows moms or high school buddies to sign up their lost loved ones to be contacted by a job recruiter, who tries to place them back in the Mt. Rushmore state.

Dakota Roots has been around since 2006 and has placed about 4,000 people back in the state. Recently, Dakota Roots has inspired similar job-matchmaking programs Choose Idaho and Wyoming Grown

Hayley McKee works for the state and helped set up Wyoming Grown. She  says the program  got started after the state ran the numbers, and realized 60 percent of young people left Wyoming within 10 years of finishing high school. She says a lot of those young people are not going to give up city life for the open prairie, “but for those people who want to come back, who are familiar with Wyoming, I feel pretty confident we are making some strides here.”

So how do you zero in on who actually wants to come back? Here’s a hint: look for diapers.

“A strategy of trying to attract back people who are in their 30s and have children probably has the best possible chance of success,” says Professor Ken Johnson, who studies rural demographic change at the University of New Hampshire.

Johnson says there is a minor trend (emphasis on the "minor") of 30-somethings going back to their rural homes. The ones who do are usually at the point in their lives when they care less about good bars and more about good schools. Johnson says those people can be swayed by the prospect of a decent job — even if it isn’t as good as what they could get in an urban area.   

“Maybe that’s enough to push somebody who is kind of sitting on the fence to think about coming back,” Johnson says. 

Salzburg’s parents are hoping he will jump off that fence.  They encouraged him to sign up for Wyoming Grown, but Salzburg insists they are leaving it up to him. He says he’s still undecided about moving, but a kid might make up his mind.

“If we had kids and there was a good job and we could go somewhere in Wyoming with decent schools I mean... yeah,” he says. “My childhood was boring, I want my child to have that.”

Whether his kid will stick around is another question. 

Imagine your car being hacked...while you're driving it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:59

The Security and Privacy in Your Car Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, aiming in part to protect your car from being hacked, according to sponsors.  

Imagine being in your car on the highway and suddenly the air turns on, the music turns up and your car stops…right in the middle of traffic. Now a video of the hacker appears on your display screen. Terrifying, right?

Well, hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek just proved that it’s possible, and they’re urging the auto industry to do something about it. Andy Greenberg, a senior writer at Wired, was their test dummy. He wrote about the experience for Wired.com in a piece called "Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway – With Me in It."

Greenberg describes driving a Jeep Cherokee 70 miles per hour on the freeway when he lost control of his vehicle. The car’s brakes were cut, leaving him to frantically and uncontrollably slide the car into a ditch.

“Despite the blasting air conditioning, I was still sweating when I got off the highway,” he says.

Miller and Valasek have discovered a feature that allows them to control vehicles remotely through the Internet, regardless of the vehicle’s location. The hackers plan to release their findings and code to the public. They say they're sending a message to the industry that this is a serious issue, and they want consumers to hold the industry accountable.

VIDEO: Street View smoker's wife 'fuming'

BBC - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:52
A man who was trying to give up smoking was caught lighting up a cigarette on Google Street View by his "fuming" wife.

Yahoo boss hails 'great progress'

BBC - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:50
Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer says the company has made "great progress" despite reporting a loss for the second quarter.

Writedowns put Microsoft in the red

BBC - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:40
Microsoft has reported a $3.2bn net loss for the three months to 30 June after posting $8.4bn of writedowns.

Boko Haram area 'to get $2bn in aid'

BBC - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:28
The World Bank pledges $2.1bn (£1.4bn; €1.9bn) to help rebuild north-eastern parts of Nigeria, wracked by years of Boko Haram militancy, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says.

Sinn Féin meets PM on welfare crisis

BBC - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:27
Sinn Féin holds "very forthright" talks with Prime Minister David Cameron over welfare reform - the issue that has been threatening Stormont's future for months.

Court Throws Out Some Convictions Of Former Ill. Gov. Blagojevich

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:24

The disgraced Democrat is serving a 14-year sentence for abusing the authority of his office for personal financial gain. He will stay in prison pending further court proceedings.

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Women's Brains Appear More Vulnerable To Alzheimer's Than Men's

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:21

Researchers at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference say there's growing evidence that women are more likely than men of the same age to develop Alzheimer's disease.

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U.S.-Cuba Ties Are Restored, But Most American Tourists Will Have To Wait

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:21

Now that Cuba and the United States have restored full diplomatic ties, what will it take to lift sanctions impeding business and travel?

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Trying To Get The World Unhooked From Hookworm

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:19

The worm infects 740 million people and causes anemia and loss of protein. A vaccine is in the works. And some brave souls are testing it out by ... getting infected with hookworm.

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Female Genital Mutilation Is A U.S. Problem, Too

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-21 12:06

A new report says an estimated half a million American girls are at risk. The U.S. and other developed countries can learn from efforts in Africa to eliminate the practice.

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Actor Theodore Bikel Dies At Age 91

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-21 11:50

Some of Bikel's most notable work took place on stage — from A Streetcar Named Desire to Fiddler on the Roof.

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Two Gene Studies Suggest First Migrants To Americas A Complex Mix

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-21 11:45

Scientists assume a wave of people from what's now Siberia crossed into North America via Alaska, maybe 23,000 years ago. Genetics support that, but may also suggest another wave from Australasia.

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Luis set to leave Chelsea - Mourinho

BBC - Tue, 2015-07-21 11:43
Left-back Filipe Luis is close to leaving Chelsea only a year after moving to Stamford Bridge, says boss Jose Mourinho.

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