National / International News

Expedia buys Orbitz – what it means for you.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 03:00

Expedia is going to buy rival Orbitz for about $1.3 billion.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal. Orbitz shareholders still have to give it the thumbs up. Assuming that happens, what’s in it for consumers?

You might be thinking you'll have to pay more for airline tickets. After all, the online travel site business is consolidating. Expedia bought Travelocity late last month.

“Certainly, there is one less independent choice, and anytime that happens, let’s face it, that’s not likely to push prices down for consumers,” says Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly.  

Kaplan says it might be a bit harder to find good deals. 

But not much, because Expedia still has lots of competition, from airline websites to more innovative sites like Hipmunk and HotelTonight.   

Kaplan says Expedia isn’t buying up its rivals to hike airfares. It’s trying to gain leverage with airlines, which don’t like allocating tickets to third party sites like Expedia. They’d rather sell their tickets themselves.

“Expedia, if it’s bigger, can go to airlines and say, 'Look, we control that many more millions of customers, and so you have to care what we think,'" he says.

Kaplan says Expedia wants lots of plane tickets to sell, because that’s what consumer buy first. Then we move on to rental cars and vacation packages, which are marked up more. That’s where Expedia makes its money. 

Expedia buys Orbitz - what it means for you.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 03:00

Expedia is going to buy rival Orbitz for about $1.3 billion.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal. Orbitz shareholders still have to give it the thumbs up. Assuming that happens, what’s in it for consumers?

You might be thinking you'll have to pay more for airline tickets. After all, the online travel site business is consolidating. Expedia bought Travelocity late last month.

“Certainly, there is one less independent choice, and anytime that happens, let’s face it, that’s not likely to push prices down for consumers,” says Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly.  

Kaplan says it might be a bit harder to find good deals. 

But not much, because Expedia still has lots of competition, from airline websites to more innovative sites like Hipmunk and HotelTonight.   

Kaplan says Expedia isn’t buying up its rivals to hike airfares. It’s trying to gain leverage with airlines, which don’t like allocating tickets to third party sites like Expedia. They’d rather sell their tickets themselves.

“Expedia, if it’s bigger, can go to airlines and say, 'Look, we control that many more millions of customers, and so you have to care what we think,'" he says.

Kaplan says Expedia wants lots of plane tickets to sell, because that’s what consumer buy first. Then we move on to rental cars and vacation packages, which are marked up more. That’s where Expedia makes its money. 

PODCAST: Radio Shack bonuses

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 03:00

If you're going to demand a raise, are you going to do it when the economy is down, or are you going to do it now? Why striking when the going is good can be a smart move. Plus, Radio Shack wants to pay big bucks in retention bonuses to some key executives and high level staff. How is the bankrupt electronics device retailer justifying this expense and how likely is it that the bankruptcy court will allow it? We'll also talk about technology that is helping to elongate careers and kick-start second careers as workers age.

Workers strike while the economy is hot

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 03:00

Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach will stop loading and unloading ships today and over the long weekend. The terminal operators and shippers say the union is orchestrating a work slowdown during labor talks. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union denies this.

Meanwhile, there are strikes at nine U.S. oil refineries. They started after contract negotiations expired. Why strike now?

“Workers tend to strike more frequently when the economy’s doing better and less frequently when the economy’s not doing well,” says Harry Katz, a professor of labor relations at Cornell University.

Katz says this trend goes back to the late 1800s. Workers are in a stronger bargaining position during good economic times.  

“Workers feel, accurately, that firms generally are earning more profits and have more to lose," he says. "So workers feel they have greater likelihood of success if they strike during good times.”

And they’re right, he says. Workers get better strike settlements when the economy’s strong. With higher wages, and better benefits, work rules and job security.

 

 

 

Lost camera owner found via Facebook

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:54
A camera lost six months ago in Australia is reunited with its owner thanks to a social media manhunt by a stranger who found the device.

Carney: Inflation may turn negative

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:50
Inflation in the UK could temporarily turn negative in the spring because of falling oil prices, the governor of the Bank of England says.

Ukraine Cease-Fire Is Reached, Along With $40 Billion Aid Deal

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:50

A new cease-fire is set to begin on Feb. 15 in eastern Ukraine, in a deal after 16 hours of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. The deal calls for the removal of heavy weapons.

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VIDEO: 'Nut rage' saga reveals Korean clans

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:46
The airline executive's daughter who made a fuss over how her nuts were served has focused attention on South Korea's dominant chaebol system.

Sweden cuts rates and starts QE

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:41
Sweden's central bank cuts its key interest rate from 0% to a record low of -0.1% and starts a programme of quantitative easing.

Q&A: Blocks, Play, Screen Time And The Infant Mind

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:40

Studies with wooden blocks show "that children who play with blocks learn language better and have better cognition."

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Doctor jailed for indecent assaults

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:36
A former doctor is jailed for 18 years for indecently assaulting girls at the UK hospital where Jimmy Savile abused patients.

Farmland bird count comes to an end

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:32
A major count of farmland birds has concluded with sightings of several rare species.

Lib Dems to 'protect education'

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:30
The Liberal Democrats pledge to protect spending from nursery to college level over the course of the next parliament if they are in government.

Is a complete ban on smoking next?

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:20
After a ban on smoking in cars was agreed by MPs in the Commons, BBC News looks at what could happen next.

Owner warned me about job - Lambert

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:13
Sacked Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says managing the club turned out to be "the toughest challenge" of his career.

The deflation that isn't deflation

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:07
The governor of the Bank of England says there is a better than evens chance inflation will turn negative in coming months but insists this won't be "deflation".

Mercedes rolls into Atlanta

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:00

Mercedes-Benz USA is leaving New Jersey, where it has been headquartered since the early 70's, for the Atlanta metro region. People in Atlanta like to say that good, old-fashioned southern hospitality lured Mercedes to the city of Sandy Springs, where the automaker will set up shop in 2017.

Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Stephen Cannon said the move also made financial sense. Atlanta’s low cost of living and low taxes appeal to Mercedes’ employees, and those the company hopes to recruit. Georgia’s business friendly policies including low taxes and low wages for entry-level workers, have helped the state lure an impressive number of large companies over the past several years.

Georgia, however, is still contending with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. And despite the presence of new corporate players, many of the jobs being created are low-wage jobs.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Back to the Future's self-drying coat? Not yet.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:00

This week’s piece of "Back to the Future" technology we're exploring appears after one of those classic 80's movie stunts that is not even remotely believable. Even if you put aside all of the futuristic technology surrounding Marty McFly as he jumps off his hoverboard and into a pond to avoid the group of hoodlums bearing down on him with implements of destruction, the fact that all he has to do is take a dive to completely get out of trouble and alter the future feels out of date. Back then it was in good company—"The Goonies," "Adventures in Babysitting," and "Gremlins," all required such suspension of disbelief. 

The self-drying jacket though? Back in 1989, you might be convinced that would be a thing by now. In the 1980's, scientists were coming up with the theory of the multiverse, and synthetic fabrics like polyester and spandex were in fashion. Why not a jacket with a computer voice that dried itself whenever you got soggy? Seemed legit. Fast forward to present day, where our ideas about wearable technology are much more complex, while our solutions to staying dry are a little more straight forward. At least that's the impression you'll get when you talk to Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, a designer and fabric technology expert at Pratt Institute. 

"The self-drying jacket doesn't really exist at this moment," says Pailes-Friedman, who has worked on wearable technology for NASA and is a fellow at the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator. "I think that there are really exciting technologies that are happening—technologies where water will just be repelled by the fabric and never really absorbed, so the jacket will never actually get wet." 

Pailes-Friedman says some of the most exciting things happening with fabric in the real 2015 have to do with making garments that actually conduct electricity. Think about having some extra integrated circuits in your shirt that add computing memory or even give a charge to your mobile device. Another big area is of course health-monitoring garments that do a lot of the things your Fitbit or your smart watch would do, but in a less visible way.

Marty's jacket also shrinks a few sizes so that it fits him better. Any chance of that happening any time soon? Pailes-Friedman is skeptical, but she says there are garments that can change the way they fit—inflating a jacket with air for insulation, or a hood squeezing closer to your face to create an air-tight space around your head, for instance. She likes to think of garments and clothing as much more than fashion statements.

"Your garment is a tool that you wear," she says. "It has a lot of functions. It can be aesthetic. It can regulate your body temperature. It can be no-wash, so it never has to be washed. There are so many things that fabrics can do."

Just not blow-dry themselves or go from an XL to an L. Yet. 

RadioShack's $3 million in executive retention bonuses

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:00

Electronics chain Radio Shack filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week. Now, as the shuttering and/or sell-off of thousands of Radio Shack stores to new owners proceeds, the company has asked permission from the bankruptcy court to pay $3 million dollars in retention bonuses to eight top executives and another thirty senior managers.

Salesman Jacob Wolley, at one of the stores to be closed in Portland, Oregon, is not too upset about the proposed bonuses.

“Of course, the first person to keep money is the top guy,” he says. “I’m just hoping that I get my paid vacation and everything that’s owed to me and I won’t feel sore.”

Finance professor Jarrad Harford at the University of Washington says companies going through bankruptcy, as well as their creditors, want knowledgeable, skilled managers to stick around through the bankruptcy, instead of jumping ship for new jobs. Although he readily admits: “The optics are never good when you’re asking to set aside extra money to pay the managers.”

Steve Odland, former CEO of Home Depot and now president of The Committee for Economic Development, a Washington think-tank, predicts the bankruptcy judge will go along with the bonus plan.

“This is the group that needs to deal with the liquidation and repositioning of the company,” says Odland. “It’s a very standard process, and this is not a big amount.”

Odland says the hope is these managers will maximize value for creditors and shareholders through the bankruptcy, and keep some stores open for Radio Shack workers.

Asking fans to help build a stadium

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 02:00

For people from Detroit, the corner of Michigan and Trumbull is about as iconic as it gets. Professional baseball has been played there dating back to 1896, and was home to the Detroit Tigers for decades.

The stadium was torn down a few years ago, but now a developer is hoping to pull off a grand real estate experiment by asking the public to invest in more than just the next mixed-use downtown project.

Click the media player above to hear more.

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