National / International News

ACA Employer Mandate Hits Another Speed Bump

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

The Obama administration is again delaying the part of the Affordable Care Act that mandates many employers to provide workers with health insurance or face potential penalties. This time, it has announced that smaller employers — those with fewer than 100 workers — can get an yearlong delay before facing requirements if they ask for it.

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Looking To Escape The Polar Vortex? Head North To Alaska

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

Many Alaskans are watching the lower 48 suffer through the cold and snowy winter with one reaction: envy. That's because Alaska is enduring the opposite, facing record high temperatures and extremely low snow totals. Alaska Public Radio Network's Annie Feidt reports that the unusual weather has made it difficult for residents to enjoy the winter sports, like skiing, that are popular in the state.

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Building Pressure May Mean Progress In Israeli Peace Talks

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

As political sparring has gotten increasingly nasty in Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has found himself caught in the crossfire for his role in the peace talks. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki points to this criticism as a sign that Israeli and Palestinian sides are getting down to the painful details. Neither side wants to be labeled as the one to end negotiations, but outsiders are nevertheless striving to exert diplomatic and financial pressure in order to ensure talks continue. Some say that this pressure alone may get a framework for peace signed.

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Legislators Make A Field Trip To Investigate W.Va Spill

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

Several members of Congress are convening a field hearing on January's toxic water crisis in West Virginia, gathering in Charleston to listen to officials testify about the safety of the water. While officials testified that the water was now suitable for drinking and bathing, there is one word nobody would use to describe the water: safe.

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In Britain, Deluge Shows No Signs Of Slowing

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

The winter weather in Britain is even worse than people expected this year. For more than a month now, the British Isles have been battered with storms that have destroyed train tracks, blocked roads and flooded large parts of the country. And as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from London, there's no end in sight to the dismal weather.

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Troubled Cease-Fire In Syria Still Leaves Some Evacuees Dead

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

Melissa Block speaks with Sam Dagher of The Wall Street Journal about the latest developments in the Syrian city of Homs. A temporary humanitarian cease-fire has been extended for three more days since the U.N.-brokered deal took effect Friday. Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated from Homs' Old City, a rebel-held territory that has been under siege by government forces for more than a year.

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For Openly Gay Football Player, Coming Out Came In Stages

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

Former University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced over the weekend that he was gay. Sam, who likely will soon enter the upcoming NFL draft, may become the first openly gay player ever in the NFL. Melissa Block gets the story behind Sam's decision from Cyd Zeigler, the editor and co-founder of OutSports, a sports news website that is dedicated to covering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes.

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Out Of The Closet And Into The Draft: Michael Sam's NFL Prospects

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

Former University of Missouri football player Michael Sam revealed over the weekend that he is gay. Sam, an All-American defensive lineman, may become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL if he is selected in this year's draft. Since he made his announcement, reactions have streamed in from every corner of the football world.

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Fate Of Former New Orleans Mayor Now In Jury's Hands

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

The jury has begun deliberations in the federal corruption trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Nagin is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen in exchange for steering city business their way after Hurricane Katrina. NPR's Debbie Elliott was in court on Monday and speaks to host Robert Siegel about the day's developments.

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'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.

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