National / International News

'Dancing Fish,' 'Ammonites' And A Literary Life Well-Lived

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 13:00

For 44 years, British author Penelope Lively has been publishing children's books, short stories and novels. Her latest book, Dancing Fish and Ammonites, is subtitled, "A Memoir," but critic Ellah Allfrey says it is "more a collection of thoughts, a scattering of advice and a reading list to treasure."

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Pickles denies Cabinet floods rift

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:59
Eric Pickles dismisses Labour claims of a falling out with colleague Owen Paterson over the floods crisis, claiming the two are "peas in a pod".

MPs back ban on smoking in cars

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:42
MPs vote to allow the government to impose an England and Wales-wide ban on smoking in cars when children are passengers.

The Science Of Munchies: Why The Scent Of A Burger Gives Us A High

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:39

Skipping a meal triggers the munchies in a similar way that marijuana does, a study in mice finds. And it works, at least in rodents, by boosting the sense of smell. Receptors in the brain that get activated when the animals are stoned also light up after they've been fasting.

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Interest Groups Gear Up For Next Supreme Court Vacancy

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:38

With Republicans growing more confident about their prospects for taking over the U.S. Senate this fall, activists from both parties are starting to fire up the message machines for the next Supreme Court opening.

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Family's tribute after kayaker death

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:37
The family of a kayaker whose body was found in the River Usk in Powys after he got into difficulty pay tribute to him.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong: How many chances does he get?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:34

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is back in the spotlight for something he said.

A few days ago, he radically altered the company’s 401(k) program, making his employees mad. He implied the change happened because a couple of employees had difficult pregnancies that cost AOL a lot in health expenses. He called them “distressed babies,” which made a large swath of people across the country mad.

Over the weekend, he apologized and reversed the 401(k) changes.

This isn’t the first big apology for Armstrong. Last time, it was after firing an employee during a mass conference call because the worker tried to take a picture of him. The corporate board deciding his fate let him keep his job, despite widespread criticism from the public.

This time? "He’ll be cut some slack for these comments in large part because of the overall business performance," says Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group.

That’s not to say that AOL is doing fantastic. It’s recovering from the disastrous acquisition of the local news site Patch, and there are still big questions about its future. But the most recent earnings report showed an increase in revenue, and the numbers are ultimately what matter to corporate boards, even when CEOs say offensive things.

But when unlikable leaders have only numbers to protect them, it can be awfully lonely when those numbers change.

"You don’t realize that your enemies are lying in wait, and boom, when the performance goes south, you can get pushed out very, very quickly," says Stanford management professor Bob Sutton, author of "Scaling Up Excellence."

CEO gaffes are especially problematic for a company like AOL, which needs to draw an audience. There can come a point when bad press from bad behavior drags corporate numbers down.

"It becomes a pretty powerful force in the Twitter world, and on Facebook, and the bloggers talking about all the things they don’t like about this guy. That starts to add up," says Sydney Finkelstein, management professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. "It could have a business effect, a business impact."

Finkelstein is known for his annual list of the best and worst CEOs. Armstrong didn’t make the bottom five for 2013, but Finkelstein says he was "in the running."

There are signs investors are concerned about the impact of Armstrong’s behavior on the company. AOL’s stock dropped more than 3 percent Monday.

Mark Garrison: This isn’t the first big apology for Armstrong. Last time it was after firing an employee during a mass conference call because the worker tried to take a picture of him. Armstrong still has his job because a corporate board decides his fate, not an outraged public. Brian Wieser  is senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group.

Brian Wieser: He’ll be cut some slack for these comments in large part because of the overall business performance.

Not that AOL is doing fantastic. There are still big questions about its future. But the most recent earnings report showed an increase in revenue and that’s ultimately what matters to corporate boards, even when CEOs say offensive things.

Bob Sutton: As long as they’re bringing in the money, this is what I always say, you can be an incredible jerk.

But Stanford management professor Bob Sutton also points out that when unlikable leaders have only numbers to protect them, it’s awfully lonely when those numbers change.

Sutton: The problem you’ve got is you don’t realize that your enemies are lying in wait and boom, when the performance goes south, you can get pushed out very, very quickly.

CEO gaffes are especially problematic for a company like AOL, which needs to draw an audience. Dartmouth management professor Sydney Finkelstein says bad press from bad behavior can drag the numbers down.

Sydney Finkelstein: It becomes a pretty powerful force in the Twitter world and on Facebook and the bloggers talking about all the things they don’t like about this guy. That starts to add up. In other words, it could have a business effect, a business impact.

And investors may already be walking away. AOL’s stock dropped more than 3 percent today. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Brazil unrest cameraman 'brain dead'

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:33
Brazilian cameraman Santiago Andrade, who was hurt in clashes between protesters and police in Rio de Janeiro last week, is brain dead, doctors say.

Entrepreneur offers a better shave for growing market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:26

Twenty-nine-year-old Tristan Walker is a classic overachiever. He was valedictorian of his college class, earned his MBA from Stanford, and worked in business development for Foursquare. Still, for most of his adult life, Walker had trouble doing something that millions of men do every day: shaving. He was plagued by razor bumps and skin irritation.  

"I know what it feels like to walk your first day on the job, having folks tell you to shave that hair off your face and being mortified," Walker said. Fellow sufferers include many African-American men, and others with curly hair. 

"Traditional mass-market brands today sell multi-blade razors, and a lot of times that's the culprit," Walker said. "Because multi-blade razors will cut the hair underneath your skin. Which is just going to cause your coarse, curly hair to grow back in to your skin."

Under the umbrella of Walker and Company Brands, he recently launched Bevel, a line of shaving products targeted specifically to men of color. Some of Walker's investors are no doubt impressed by his experience in Silicon Valley. And with recent studies projecting that African-American buying power will reach $1.1 trillion next year, Walker thinks the time is ripe for companies seeking to market products to Black consumers. 

"As the demographic continues to grow, continues to have influence in this country, I think a lot of folks will have to take note," Walker said. 

One of those taking note is Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, a Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations for the Nielsen Company, who, in 2011 proposed the idea of looking specifically at what African-American consumers buy, watch and listen to. Nielsen produced surveys in 2011, 2012, and again last year in a report entitled "Resilient, Receptive and Relevant," which offers a glimpse into a largely youthful, connected, media-savvy market. 

"The Black population is young, hip, and highly influential," Pearson-McNeil said.  The question though, is whether companies and advertisers recognize this. Pearson-McNeil says that of seventy five billion dollars a year spent in TV, print, internet and radio ads, "only three percent of that is being spent with Black media or with media that targets Black audiences." 

McNeil says that rather than one-size-fits-all marketing strategies, companies can do a better job of connecting with Black consumers by featuring African-Americans more prominently in advertisements, and by trying to develop an authentic connection with consumers. 

"If people can see themselves, it does help move the needle to where they will respond to your brand," Pearson-McNeil said. 

Tristan Walker appears to understand this well. An online commercial for Bevel, whose first shipment of products went out this month, features a thirty-something African-American man conducting his morning routine in a beautifully-appointed apartment. A voiceover tells us Bevel is a shaving sytem, "that we can use." 

Entrepreneur offers a better shave for growing market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:26

Twenty-nine-year-old Tristan Walker is a classic overachiever. He was valedictorian of his college class, earned his MBA from Stanford, and worked in business development for Foursquare. Still, for most of his adult life, Walker had trouble doing something that millions of men do every day: shaving. He was plagued by razor bumps and skin irritation.  

"I know what it feels like to walk your first day on the job, having folks tell you to shave that hair off your face and being mortified," Walker said. Fellow sufferers include many African-American men, and others with curly hair. 

"Traditional mass-market brands today sell multi-blade razors, and a lot of times that's the culprit," Walker said. "Because multi-blade razors will cut the hair underneath your skin. Which is just going to cause your coarse, curly hair to grow back in to your skin."

Under the umbrella of Walker and Company Brands, he recently launched Bevel, a line of shaving products targeted specifically to men of color. Some of Walker's investors are no doubt impressed by his experience in Silicon Valley. And with recent studies projecting that African-American buying power will reach $1.1 trillion next year, Walker thinks the time is ripe for companies seeking to market products to Black consumers. 

"As the demographic continues to grow, continues to have influence in this country, I think a lot of folks will have to take note," Walker said. 

One of those taking note is Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, a Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations for the Nielsen Company, who, in 2011 proposed the idea of looking specifically at what African-American consumers buy, watch and listen to. Nielsen produced surveys in 2011, 2012, and again last year in a report entitled "Resilient, Receptive and Relevant," which offers a glimpse into a largely youthful, connected, media-savvy market. 

"The Black population is young, hip, and highly influential," Pearson-McNeil said.  The question though, is whether companies and advertisers recognize this. Pearson-McNeil says that of seventy five billion dollars a year spent in TV, print, internet and radio ads, "only three percent of that is being spent with Black media or with media that targets Black audiences." 

McNeil says that rather than one-size-fits-all marketing strategies, companies can do a better job of connecting with Black consumers by featuring African-Americans more prominently in advertisements, and by trying to develop an authentic connection with consumers. 

"If people can see themselves, it does help move the needle to where they will respond to your brand," Pearson-McNeil said. 

Tristan Walker appears to understand this well. An online commercial for Bevel, whose first shipment of products went out this month, features a thirty-something African-American man conducting his morning routine in a beautifully-appointed apartment. A voiceover tells us Bevel is a shaving sytem, "that we can use." 

Nuclear base staff discuss strikes

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:15
Hundreds of workers at the Faslane and Coulport naval and armament bases on the Clyde are to hold a mass meeting to discuss potential strike dates.

How do rental car companies make money?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:01

An "I've always wondered..." two-fer: Two listener questions on the rental industry we just couldn't take apart...    1) Why do rental car companies give you two keys that can't be separated? If you lose one, you lose both. -- Brianne Halbach from Atlanta. "We share cars between branches, and since we have more than one key set, each car comes with two sets, we just want to have both sets together when we sell the car," Ian McGrath, who works behind the counter at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car   In fact, this has nothing to do with us as consumers.    A word of advice from someone who's tried -- you really can't get the keys apart.   A few months ago, I rented a car from Hertz. A parking attendant locked both keys in the car. I called Hertz, they sent triple-A, I’m charged $130. I said to the Triple-A guy, "If these keys weren’t attached I wouldn’t have had this problem."   He offers to cut them apart, and his bolt cutter couldn't even do it—that wire is like titanium or something.   Paula Rivera at Hertz explains: "We have about a half-million cars in our fleet. So logistically, it’s very difficult for us to store the second set somewhere and then match it up with the original car."   I put it to her that it’s a real pain for renters—if they lose the keys, or lock them inside like I did.   Her response?    "Hertz actually offers a premium roadside service. So for approximately an additional $6.50 a day, things such as keys locked in cars or lost keys are included in that service." Yes, she tried to upsell me with the "premium roadside service." Which brings us to another question from a listener.   2) How do rental car companies make money? -- Barry Reeves from Portland, Ore.   One answer: They buy so many cars, the automakers cut them big discounts. And they’ve figured out the formula to make sure those cars are on the road 80 percent of the time.    Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation of America says where they really push for profits is the add-ons. Ten percent of revenue comes from car seats, gasoline, insurance, GPS—stuff we opt for at the counter because of convenience, or a hard-sell. "Many of us fall victim to pay for the full tank up front. And the only way that’s ever going to pay off is if you return the car and roll in running on fumes. There’s virtually no reason to buy the auto insurance, if you own your own car and have your own insurance policy." And, finally, the companies get pretty good resale value when they unload the cars—20,000 or 25,000 miles later.   Some people buy rentals as used cars, and don't even know it. Chris Brown is with Auto Rental News. He says car renters have a scarier reputation than they deserve.   "The majority of rental cars are driven by people between the ages of 25 to 65. More than half are air travelers, they hold credit cards, so they have some financial means."   So the answer to both questions—the two identical keys, how the rental companies make money—ties in to resale value. Keep those keys together, save a few hundred bucks. Keep the car clean and in good working order, boost your revenue when it’s time to sell to a dealer or consumer.   At the end of the day, renting cars?   It’s kind of beside the point.

Delivering better medical care, at $15 an hour

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-10 12:00

Often, talk of effective medical innovation means something high-tech and high price, but a report out today in the Journal of the American Medical Association highlights one that's anything but: The low-tech, low-price lay community health worker.

For about $15 an hour, community health workers are doing what much better paid doctors, nurses and social workers struggle to do: keep sick patients from returning to the hospital again and again.

To understand what a community health worker does, let’s talk about a real case -- a woman who kept showing up to the hospital with high blood pressure, a little overweight, complaining of chest pain.

"Automatically, people worry she’s having a heart attack," says Dr. Shreya Kangovi , an internist with the University of Pennsylvania Medical System, and lead author of the new study. "She comes in, she gets stress tests, she gets EKGs, she gets cardiac catheterization she gets medication."

After six months of expensive hospitalizations, Kangovi says the patient was paired with a community health worker. It was at that point the patient opened up about a sexual assault.

"This had really traumatized her and it was leading to these feelings of panic and social anxiety," Kangovi says.

Ferreting out the source of the problem, says Kangovi, is really what the patient needed -- not going to the hospital every month. In fact, the patient returned just once after that. Kangovi says her randomly controlled trial found high-cost patients who were matched with health workers felt better, and were less likely to be readmitted multiple times.

Economically, this investment is smart, says Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the Maryland Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

"If getting admitted again and again, each admission is several thousand dollars, then it is pretty easy to save money with that kind of intervention," he says.

As more pressure is put on hospitals and doctors to save money, the idea of employing these workers is picking up steam.

"We’re proving out right now this is a great idea," says Bob Koche, a former healthcare advisor to President Obama. "We have a bunch of things done by people that are expensive, like doctors, that can be done by people who are lower cost like community health workers."

NY mayor targets inequality 'threat'

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-10 11:59
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledges to raise the minimum wage and issue papers to undocumented immigrants, as he rails against inequality.

Egypt's Crackdown Widens, But Insurgency Still Burns

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 11:48

The Egyptian security forces have targeted the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now classified as a terrorist group. But the crackdown has gone well beyond the one Islamist organization and now encompasses most everyone voicing dissent.

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Egypt's Crackdown Widens, But Insurgency Still Burns

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 11:48

The Egyptian security forces have targeted the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now classified as a terrorist group. But the crackdown has gone well beyond the one Islamist organization and now encompasses most everyone voicing dissent.

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Copenhagen Zoo's Scientific Director Defends Killing Giraffe

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 11:45

Bengt Holst said euthanizing the 2-year-old giraffe was for the good of the greater giraffe population and it also served as an opportunity to "educate people."

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Pietersen signs new Surrey contract

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-10 11:37
Discarded England batsman Kevin Pietersen signs a new contract to play for Surrey this season.

Banking clean-up plan revealed

BBC - Mon, 2014-02-10 11:22
Banks would have to report each year on their behaviour and competence under proposals for an independent body to oversee the industry.

Militants In Iraq Blow Themselves Up At Bomb Training Camp

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 11:11

Iraqi officials believe a belt packed with explosives detonated as an instructor was conducting a demonstration. About 20 militants were killed and 15 or so were wounded. It appears that no innocent bystanders were hurt.

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