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Updated: 32 min 14 sec ago

PODCAST: Macy's settles profiling charge

2 hours 52 min ago

After the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and the recent clashes in Ferguson, Missouri, racial profiling has returned to the national spotlight.

That department store chain Macy’s reached a $650,000 settlement Wednesday with the New York Attorney General’s office over racial profiling practices shows how deep the issue runs. This is the second settlement since 2005 for Macy’s, and the deal comes about a week after a similar agreement was reached with the Madison Avenue luxury store Barney’s.

Plus, the Dow could pass $17,000 again by labor day, but amid geopolitical crises all over the world, how is that possible?

And finally, British pubs have been closing at a rate of 31 a week, and that rate is accelerating. The Campaign for Real Ale is warning that a world-famous British institution is in danger of severe decline. The group has called for urgent measures to save the pub and preserve a valuable piece of the fabric of British life.

Macy's settles up in profiling case

3 hours 37 min ago

After the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and the recent clashes in Ferguson, Missouri, racial profiling has returned to the national spotlight.

Department store chain Macy’s reached a $650,000 settlement Wednesday with the New York Attorney General’s office over racial profiling practices, which shows how deep the issue runs. This is the second settlement since 2005 for Macy’s, and the deal comes about a week after a similar agreement was reached with the Madison Avenue luxury store Barney’s.

The most recent investigation has found that African-American and Hispanic shoppers were detained at  “significantly higher rates” for alleged shoplifting than white shoppers.

Retail researcher Paula Rosenblum says racial profiling is frequently an afterthought in the industry.

“They mostly advise their store associates to watch out for people who look suspicious,” she says.

Milton Pedraza, founder and CEO of the Luxury Institute, says retailers have every incentive to train front-line and security staff so every customer feels welcome.

“Even if you didn’t have moral clarity on the issue, at least you should have economic clarity on the issue,” he says.

Pedraza says stealing a shirt is insignificant compared to the additional sales that come from building a reputation as a kind and generous merchant. 

For its part, Macy’s has agreed to make several changes, including an effort to improve its anti-shoplifting practices and plans to distribute an anti-racial-profiling memo to workers.

Simma Lieberman, who works with retailers on diversity and what she calls "cultural intelligence" says employers should know profiling is often unconscious. Lieberman trains her clients to monitor their own personal biases. Often, she says, shop clerks are quick to make assumptions, and “they don’t get to behavior, they just look at what somebody looks like.”

The danger, says Lieberman, is in our rush to judgment, when we “assume someone is going to have a certain behavior, which they may not have.”

Who created that app? A teacher

6 hours 30 min ago

Laura Fenn was teaching fifth grade in North Carolina when her school cut back on physical education and recess. "They actually started to count time walking from the classroom to the cafeteria as physical activity time," Fenn says.

That gave her an idea:  create podcasts that students can listen to, and learn from, while they walk. You can find audio samples here.

Fenn’s nonprofit, The Walking Classroom Institute, is now her full-time job.

She’s one of many current and former teachers developing digital classroom tools.  

NoRedInk, BetterLesson, SmarterCookie are just a handful of education tech companies founded by teachers.

"It’s not until you’re in the classroom until you realize and really understand the pain points," says Benjamin Levy. He was teaching eighth graders in California and got frustrated that educational videos weren’t more interactive.  Now he’s CEO of eduCanon, which lets teachers add questions to online videos.

High school physics teacher Peter Bohacek was stymied by teaching physics from a book. "Physics is about the analysis of an event, not an abstract, contrived text description," he says. So he and Dr. Matthew Vonk created “Direct Measurement Videos,”which allow teachers to illustrate the basics of physics from the speed of sound to Newton’s Second Law.

Bohacek’s videos are free online. He wants to keep them that way.

But others see the booming market for education technology and want a piece of it. It's an $8 billion industry.

There's also a new distribution model that bypasses administrators and school districts.

"As a teacherpreneur it can be easy to get it in the hand of teachers, especially if it’s free, which appears to be the most teachers will pay for an app these days," said Frank Catalano, an edtech industry consultant.

He says the challenge for teachers is the challenge for most educational tech start-ups: how to turn a good idea into a sustainable business.

British pubs: popular but disappearing

7 hours 7 min ago

British pubs have been closing at a rate of 31 a week, and that rate is accelerating. The Campaign for Real Ale is warning that a world-famous British institution is in danger of severe decline. The group has called for urgent measures to save the pub and preserve a valuable piece of the fabric of British life.

Stephen Langdon is one of a group of regulars trying to save his local — The Maiden Over in Reading — from closure.

“It will damage the community no question about it.” Langdon says. “ The pub has been a real focal point for the families and local community. If we lose it, there will be nowhere else for us to have a social evening in our neighborhood. There is no other pub within easy, convenient walking distance from where we live.”

Langdon's pub is scheduled to be turned into a supermarket. A similar fate befell Gareth Epps’ local pub, with negative consequences for his social life.

"I don’t see my friends so often now, I don’t see my neighbors so often." Epps says. "It means I lose the chance to pay cricket for my pub team. It diminishes the quality of life in our neighborhood."

Many of the pubs that have closed their doors were making money but not as much money as the supermarkets that replaced them. Indeed, supermarkets now pose a big competitive threat to pubs as retailers of booze.

"Supermarkets are selling beer so cheap that people on low incomes are driven into the arms of the supermarkets because pub beer is so much more expensive." explains Roger Protz, author of "300 Beers to Try Before You Die." "So people buy cheap beer from the supermarket and drink it at home.”

Adding to the plight of the British pub is a corporate malaise. The handful of big companies that own most of the pubs are heavily in debt and they need to sell off more of their assets. The supermarket chains are willing buyers.

CAMRA used the occasion of its annual Great British Beer Festival last week to highlight the threat to the British pub and to call for closure of what it calls a loophole in UK planning law.

"Something that is as intrinsic to British culture as the British pub can be closed down, can be knocked down, it can have its use changed, with no reference to the local community." CAMRA’s spokesman Tom Stainer says. The group wants a planning application to be required before a pub can be demolished so that the local community has a chance to save it.

The group has launched an unusual crusade for the sake of the country’s social health: to drive the British people back to drink, in a pub.

China levies record antitrust fines on foreign firms

7 hours 11 min ago

In its latest effort to wield its power against foreign companies, China has levied more than $200 million in fines against a dozen Japanese auto parts makers for price-fixing.

German and American automakers are also being investigated. They were the largest fines placed on foreign companies in China since the government rolled out new anti-trust laws six years ago, and they're making a big impact on the world's largest auto market.

The investigation is the latest to target foreign companies within a select group of industries from pharmaceuticals to PR firms. CLSA analyst Scott Laprise says the investigation into price fixing among foreign companies in China's auto market is reasonable from a consumer perspective.

"If we look at it from a U.S.-style consumer protectionist view: What would you think if you found out your car was being sold two, three, four [or] in the case of some cars five times more expensive in another country?" Laprise asks. "Aren’t you taking advantage of that country?"

While some analysts may see this as the latest example of China's government unfairly targeting foreign firms, others point out that Chinese consumers are the fastest rising consumer group in the world, and this investigation is an effort on the part of China's government to protect them from unfair business practices.

 

China levies record antitrust fines on foreign firms

7 hours 11 min ago

In its latest effort to wield its power against foreign companies, China has levied more than $200 million in fines against a dozen Japanese auto parts makers for price-fixing.

German and American automakers are also being investigated. They were the largest fines placed on foreign companies in China since the government rolled out new anti-trust laws six years ago, and they're making a big impact on the world's largest auto market.

The investigation is the latest to target foreign companies within a select group of industries from pharmaceuticals to PR firms. CLSA analyst Scott Laprise says the investigation into price fixing among foreign companies in China's auto market is reasonable from a consumer perspective.

"If we look at it from a U.S.-style consumer protectionist view: What would you think if you found out your car was being sold two, three, four [or] in the case of some cars five times more expensive in another country?" Laprise asks. "Aren’t you taking advantage of that country?"

While some analysts may see this as the latest example of China's government unfairly targeting foreign firms, others point out that Chinese consumers are the fastest rising consumer group in the world, and this investigation is an effort on the part of China's government to protect them from unfair business practices.

 

Uber launches home delivery service

7 hours 52 min ago

Uber — the company known for on-demand taxi rides — is getting into the on-demand delivery business. Its foray into the delivery world is in Washington, D.C., where it has unveiled an experimental delivery service it calls Corner Store. 

Here's how it works: Say my baby is sick, and I need some infant cold medicine.

Uber will send one of its drivers out to pick up whatever I need. 

“Just think about a mom who’s at home with a sick kid and she doesn’t want to leave the child alone. It’s the perfect opportunity,” says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Retail Systems Research.

Rosenblum says Uber is competing with lots of other companies who are experimenting with on-demand delivery: Google, eBay, Walmart. And, of course, Amazon.

How can Uber compete with the likes of Amazon? Think of Amazon as a bus, and Uber as, well, a taxi.

“Amazon is going to have the low-cost delivery because of all those passengers on the bus, whereas Uber is going to have one package on the taxi, ” says Rob Howard, founder and CEO of Grand Junction, a company that provides software for shippers.

Uber is offering its Corner Store delivery service for free at first, although you have to pay for the products you order. If Corner Store becomes permanent, it'll have to charge for delivery.

While Uber may not be able to match Amazon’s low prices, but Howard says consumers may be willing to pay more to get stuff fast. 

More housing starts don't mean more first-time buyers

7 hours 56 min ago

Home builders are having a party, thanks to a host of new numbers suggesting the backhoes and construction workers are busy. Home construction rose 22 percent over last year. Building permits are up 7.7 percent. And a measure of builders’ confidence has exceeded expectations.

But first-time buyers are largely absent. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, new buyers historically purchased around 30 percent of newly built homes. Now it’s around 16 percent.

“Underwriting criteria are tighter now,” says David Crowe of the association. “And that’s the age group that usually falls out if you are restrictive in terms of credit scores.”

Young buyers also face job instability, lower incomes, and increased down payments. One brokerage found the median down payment for starter homes rose from around $6,000 in 2007 to more than $9,000 last year.  

But first-timers are a key to unlocking the whole housing market. Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate at the Wharton School, says at some point, lots of first-timers will buy existing starter houses.

“When they come in the market, that’s going to give a boost to existing home sales,” Wachter says, “which will allow those who are in their homes, still not getting the price they want, still underwater, they’ll be able to sell. Then they’ll be able to buy the new homes, which tend to be trade-up homes. New homes are trade-up homes generally.”

It’s a cascade effect. And right now, new demand has to flow in.

Can Barnes & Noble find success with Samsung?

8 hours 32 min ago

Samsung has unveiled a partnership with bookseller Barnes and Noble to create a new version of the Nook tablet, in a bid to compete with Amazon and their Kindle device. To get a read on whether such a device would work, we spoke to New York Times tech columnist Molly Wood.

Wood described the prospects for the partnership as uncertain at best.

“I would say that moderate non-failure is the best we can hope for right now,” Wood said.

However, she also noted that Samsung can make media and publisher deals that would bring more attention to the Nook, as competition in the tablet market is no longer is about the hardware.

Samsung and Barnes & Noble could even take advantage of the tension between Amazon and other publishers to negotiate deals, but this would likely lead to higher prices for consumers. 

Renewed attention on Terms of Service agreements

Tue, 2014-08-19 15:30

With the recent controversies over both Facebook and Google apps and their use of user data, Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson joined Kai Ryssdal to talk about the power we give tech companies when we use their services.

Google’s location tracking data, for example, is key in the ongoing conversation about what permissions we give to apps.

“Depending on the app permissions and settings you've agreed to," Johnson says, "I could track your every move for any day you've had Google Maps running on your phone.”

This discussion has resurfaced because of Google’s Location History feature, which lists all location data the company has collected from your account. The good news is you can delete all that data by clicking on a link there.

Apple manages application permissions differently from Android; Google has the user accept conditions before downloading, while Apple uses “just-in-time” permissions, which allow the user to accept or deny permissions as one begins to use the app.

Terms of Service — a legal document which a consumer must agree to simply to use a website or service, let alone the mobile app — are another issue. Facebook's alone is is 4,500 words long. A recent study said it would take six weeks to read privacy sections in the terms of service for online services.

Health records are an easy target for identity thieves

Tue, 2014-08-19 13:46

Community Health Systems, a large hospital operator, got hacked. The word is Chinese hackers stole some 4.5 million health records from the company.  The files included everything from patient Social Security numbers to birth dates and addresses, a veritable goldmine of information for identity theft.

Healthcare providers have been digitizing our records to make everything from treating patients to filing for insurance more efficient. But in their rush towards efficiency, cyber security has gotten lost, says Stephen Cobb, a security researcher at ESET.

“I think a lot of the problem is cultural,” says Cobb. “Doctors and nurses get up and go to work everyday to help people" -  not to protect people from criminals, he says. “An example would be, 'how many hospital systems have chief security information officers'?”

His answer: not many. Plus, he says, many computer systems were put in place before cyber crimes became a real threat, and so a lot of those systems have holes.

Protecting medical records is more difficult than say, protecting your banking records, because they’re constantly being shared and transferred online, says Mac McMillan, CEO of CynergisTek.

“If you look at the average number of people who have access to your information in a hospital encounter, the number I’ve heard is around 150 people,” McMillan says. Each of those people are potential security threats.

Complicating cyber security even further is the "Internet of Things," says Michael Coates, director of product security at Shape Security. He says almost everything in a hospital is wired these days - from printers to “imaging devices or tablets being used by doctors on the wireless network."

Coates says many of these devices aren't secure, and if hackers can break into one device, they can potentially break into the whole system. 

The big business of tear gas, explained

Tue, 2014-08-19 13:40

Tear gas may be one of the most ubiquitous images on the news looking back over the past several years. White clouds - and people running from them - appear in newsreels depicting uprisings from Ferguson to Cairo. 

Nonlethal weapons are a $1.6 billion-a-year business, according to Visiongain, a market research firm. 

“Seventy percent of that is anti-personnel,” says Michael Emery, defense editor and analyst. Anti-personnel weapons means something used to immobilize or incapacitate people without – ideally – killing them.  This could include rubber bullets and stun-guns. 

“Tear gas is possibly the second most important element after Tasers,” he says, largely because it’s so effective and less lethal. “A few canisters of tear gas can be used to disperse a hundred people, whereas a Taser is one-to-one.”

The science is still out on the long term effects of tear gas, says Sven Eric Jordt, professor of anesthesiology at Duke University School of Medicine.  It can be dangerous for children, the elderly and people with breathing problems, but its general effects aren’t conclusively known. Still, tear gas is less lethal than other options. Rubber bullets, though designed to be sub-lethal, have killed people and water hoses have maimed them.  

The largest consumer of non-lethal antipersonnel weapons, including tear gas, is law enforcement, says Emery, overwhelmingly in the United States.  “The U.S. is by far the largest market for nonlethal systems and due to that there’s a concentration of companies within the U.S.”

Wyoming-based Defense Technology (part of Canadian firm Safariland) appears to be the source of at least some of the tear gas used in Ferguson, Missouri.  Other U.S. companies include  the Pennsylvania-based Combined Systems Inc. and Non Lethal Technologies Inc.  There's also AmTech Less Lethal in Florida.  Another major producer, Condor Non Lethal, is based in Brazil.

Between 2013 and 2014, sales of nonlethal anti-personnel weapons grew 2.2 percent globally.  It’s a moderate number, tempered by security spending cuts.  But Emery says he expects future growth to be much higher.  One reason is that after so many uprisings from Tunis to Rio to Ferguson, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that lethal force makes things worse.

But another reason is that police departments and citizens are getting inured to seeing such weapons deployed, including tear gas.  “The [increased] massive use world wide has decreased the threshold in western countries to deploy tear gas,” says Jordt.

The question is how law enforcement will strike a balance between using it more, and using it well.  

Volkswagen brings German-style vocational training to the US

Tue, 2014-08-19 13:19

One of the world’s largest automakers has stepped into the fringe of American education. Volkswagen has imported its German-style apprenticeship program to the U.S., and American labor officials hope it might become a model.

“It’s a totally different mindset. It’s a totally different culture,” says Ilker Subasi, who heads the Volkswagen Academy on site at the company’s Chattanooga plant.

Subasi sees a stigma in the U.S. against technical education. But in Germany, more than half of high school graduates go into vocational programs like VW’s. Subasi himself was once a VW apprentice.

Once accepted, the company’s U.S. “mechatronics” students earn a small stipend over the course of three years while learning how to maintain robotics. If they stick with the program, they’re hired with a starting salary of $22 an hour. They also earn an associate’s degree from Chattanooga State Community College and a DIHK certification from the German American Chamber of Commerce, which would allow them to work at German auto plants around the world.

“At first, I was like, ‘Am I going to be pushing around a broom? Am I going to be changing light bulbs?’” recalls Alex Bizzell, a 22-year-old who graduated last week. “It’s been a substantial effort to do it, but now I know exactly what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.”

The VW school is heavily subsidized by the state of Tennessee as part of an incentive package to bring the automaker to the state in 2009. A stadium-sized building beside the plant that builds the Passat houses the classroom space and hands-on learning. 

Inside, a robotic arm two stories tall swings through the air, as a student practices programming machines like the ones used next door. Michael Regan says he tried a year of community college before applying.

“You know, I was never that really into writing and all of that,” he says. “I’m not that big of a writer. I was just always more of a hands-on person. That’s just how I learn better.”

At Regan’s graduation, a top executive told the dozen students he hopes they will ultimately retire with VW.

Some graduates are taking the option to spend a year working at a German plant. Others are deferring their job to finish a four-year degree. Regan starts work immediately – albeit on the night shift.

“Look at the benefits and the future he has with this company,” says Regan’s mom, Sharon. “And that’s why you go to college is to work for a big company – most people – to make a good living and have good benefits. And he’s going to have it at 22.”

What are you up to during a conference call?

Tue, 2014-08-19 13:06

Data provided by InterCall, the world's biggest conference call company, and collated by the Harvard Business Review, revealed what people actually do while they're on a conference call. According to the survey, which allowed multiple responses:

  • 65 percent said they do other work, whatever that may be.
  • 63 percent said they send an email.
  • 55 percent said they eat or make food.
  • And 47 percent said they go to the restroom, in a pretty gross display of multitasking.

Just as interesting were the places survey respondents said they took conference calls from. The fitting room, the beach and the ER were all represented.

To replicate their experience, maybe head to one of those places (or a bathroom) to revisit our interview with Zach Scott, who created the awe-inspiring/terrifying ConferenceCall.biz.

What can a 4-year-old learn at online preschool?

Tue, 2014-08-19 12:22

Monique Hurtado, a mother of three in Monrovia, California, doesn't send her 3-year-old to preschool. Hurtado has her own bookkeeping business and her husband works full-time as a laser supply stock clerk.

“Financially, we couldn't afford it,” Hurtado said of the nearby preschool options.

There was another reason too: “I just feel she should stay home with me."

So, she set up a preschool learning center. The big kitchen table is neatly divided into stations with paints, crayons and other art supplies. There are blocks and play dough in tubs.

And there’s a laptop computer.

Monique Hurtado found a preschool course for her child on the Internet. For years, websites have offered free preschool handouts or activity guides. Now, parents can get an entire preschool curriculum from a computer.

The companies behind online preschools

Two new companies for online preschool are ABC Mouse and CHALK preschool online. Neither was willing to share exact metrics on home-use of its online products, but both said their numbers are in the tens of thousands — and growing daily.

CHALK representative Jenna Capozzi said when the online preschool soft-launched in November 2012, there were 100 sign-ups per day. Now it’s in the thousands.

“Our retention rate is at 60 percent, which is encouraging, for we still consider ourselves a start-up and are learning every day about a unique market,” she said.

CHALK started out charging for the service but a year later, in November 2013, they began offering their content for free. CHALK online is a 30-minute class covering all the preschool basics, from literacy to science.

They're taught through videos created by Capozzi’s team, based on lessons taught in CHALK’s brick and mortar preschools. There are also many “off-line” activities attached to each day’s class that parents are encouraged to lead, like "take a nature walk and note the colors of flowers."

ABC Mouse also delivers online preschool curriculum developed by early education specialists. It rolled out a version in public libraries across Los Angeles this year, after it received interest and feedback from preschool teachers. Last year, the company said, 65,000 teachers used ABCMouse.com in the U.S. and Canada.

A sign of the times?

It's a sign of where early education may be headed in these times of high preschool costs and long wait lists.

Online preschool has even been adopted by the state of Utah as one arm of its early education services. Faced with a desperate need for more quality preschools, the Utah Legislature in 2008 funded an online preschool venture called UPSTART. The legislature studied student’s progress, and results came back extremely positive. An independent evaluation of the program's third year showed student's did two to three times better in literacy than students who had not used the online program.

Utah recently reauthorized – and increased — the funding for another five years. It's costing the state $900 per child to provide a full year of online preschool, and this year the state will spend $2.2 million on the program.

Yet sitting a preschooler in front of a screen to "watch school" is a concept that some question. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended limited screen time for the preschool age group, one reason some online providers limit the lesson time to 30 or 60 minutes a day.

Screen time: Positive or dangerous?

Some experts, however, think limited and targeted screen time can be positive for young brain development. Dr. Gary Small is the author of "iBrain" and a professor of psychiatry at UCLA. His work looks at the effect of digital devices on the brain. He found computer and device use “allows us to exercise our brains” - even for little children.

“It can get your neurons happy [and] it allows your brain to challenge itself and to develop in many positive ways,” he said.

The danger, according to Small, is that children will not switch off the computer to do other necessary developmental activities, like building with blocks or getting dirty in the sandbox with friends. 

If a child is only using a computer or tablet, he said, “some of those three dimensional concepts that you get from hands-on play are not kicking in.”

Georgetown university professor Rachel Barr has also studied small children and what they learn from digital devices. One of her studies involved a puzzle that could be done on a digital device or with real physical blocks by toddlers aged 15 to 33 months.

When the children were shown how to build an object out of shapes on a touch screen, and then they were asked to repeat it on the digital device, they did very well. But they didn’t do so well when they were given real physical blocks and asked to build the same object.

“They seem to have some difficulty taking the information with them,” Barr said.   

CHALK, with its roots in a brick and mortar preschool, understands this, said Capozzi, Chalk’s lead content creator.

“At that age kids are learning very tactile-ly,” she said. Her program prompts parents to supplement the online program with offline, hands-on activities. “If they want to learn about how something can have a rough texture or a smooth texture, put those textures in front of your child to actually touch it."

Hurtado said she and her 3-year-old love Chalk preschool online.

“It is hard to try and come up with a curriculum, so that’s why I really like the online preschool because it does take a lot of the pressure off of me,” she said. “I can add to it, which I do, but I don’t have to think up all the things or spend the time to sing all the songs because it’s done for me.”

Hurtado believes her daughter is blossoming from her online preschool.

“I didn’t realize she was soaking in as much as she was,” Hurtado said. “I was really surprised.”

150 years of college football

Tue, 2014-08-19 11:11

Even if you aren’t much of a football fan, you have to admit that there's something special about a Saturday afternoon and college football. Maybe it’s the whole excuse-for-quality time-on-the-couch thing, or maybe it comes down to the pizza and chicken wings. But, there's definitely something about the excitement of it all that makes millions of Americans look forward to it every week.

"No other nation in the world can even fathom the notion of attaching a prominent moneymaking athletic operation to a university," says Michael Weinreb, author of "Season of Saturdays: A History of College Football in 14 Games". "The fact that college football has existed for nearly 150 years, and the fact that it remains one of the most popular sports in America, must say something about who we are."

Weinreb says college football represents America’s evolution politically and culturally, from race to economic status.

"Everything we argue about in America is essentially in there in the mix in college football," says Weinreb.

Listen to the full conversation in the audio player above.

The cost of orange juice is too damn high

Tue, 2014-08-19 05:00

One of American’s breakfast staples – orange juice – is disappearing off our breakfast tables. In fact, a Nielsen report this week shows orange juice sales have fallen to their lowest levels since 2002. So what's behind the sagging orange juice sales? Here are some contributing factors to sip on:

Growing Competition

Sales for coffee, pomegranate juice, and sports and energy drinks are up. 

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Bacterial Disease

A bacterial disease that is sometimes called “citrus greening” or “yellow dragon disease” is being spread by an invasive bug from Asia. The USDA reports the orange-tree population has shrunk nearly a quarter since 2003. All this leads analysts to predict the upcoming orange season may be the smallest crop in 50 years. 

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Breakfast is less popular

Studies show we aren’t eating breakfast as much as we have in the past. 

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Plus, it's expensive.

According to Nielsen, a gallon of “OJ” now  goes for about $6.50.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 

So, in the near-term, it looks like several forces our driving our breakfast mainstay into a luxury buy.

 

 

 

 

 

PODCAST: Orange Juice down

Tue, 2014-08-19 03:00

It's hardly like World War II or anything, but Americans are increasingly finding ways to go without orange juice. Consumption has fallen to the lowest level since 2002 according to fresh numbers from Nielsen -- we have more on why the breakfast staple is becoming less popular. And as families pack their 18-year-olds for college, they're confronted by the tuition costs. Then there's the cost of text books: one estimate puts the average at $600 for books and materials; another estimate runs twice that. Some students save money by renting or buying textbooks. But others don't get the books at all, which can cause big headaches for the instructors leading their classes. As you've been hearing, two people were shot last night and more than 30 arrested in more confrontations in Ferguson, Missouri. Among the many issues that will be examined is the flow of post-9-11 federal money that critics say has lead to the militarization of American police forces.  And there are calls now for police officers to wear video cameras on the job. But that solution may only lead to more questions.

Professors struggle to adapt as students forego books

Tue, 2014-08-19 02:00

On the last day of a pediatric dentistry course offered this summer at the University of Minnesota, adjunct assistant professor Jen Post asked her class a pointed question.

"For the purposes of planning for next year, I'm just wondering how many of you bought the book for this course," she asked. "Anyone?"

Not one aspiring dental hygienist raised a hand.

The $85 textbook was, technically speaking, optional. But Post says even when it was required in years past, few students bought it. They also didn't even try to rent or borrow it.

"Then they didn't know answers on exams. They didn't know where it was coming from," says Post.

Faculty at several other schools report similar problems. In a survey conducted last fall by the National Association of College Stores, nearly a third of students polled said they didn't buy or rent at least one item required for a class, often a textbook. And an equal share of students waited until after the start of school to buy anything.

"They want to make sure that whatever's required of them to purchase or rent or borrow from someone else, that they're going to be used," says Richard Hershman, vice president of government relations for the trade group.

Niki Marinelli, a senior in the dental hygiene program at the University of Minnesota, says she often just relies on study guides or will borrow a textbook from a friend to avoid buying books.

"Sometimes I see how I did on the first test and go from there. I see if I feel a book would've been helpful if I didn't do so well," she says. "Most of the time I'm okay. I'll go in if I have any questions."

Marinelli says loans cover the $10,000 she pays each semester in out-of-state tuition. But book costs come out of her own pocket. And she already works two jobs.

Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, says professors need to be sensitive to textbook affordability. But he says it's shortsighted of students to spend thousands of dollars on tuition and then skimp on books.

"It's a case of students essentially seeming to think they're paying for the credential for the degree but they're not all that concerned about the learning that goes along with it," he says.

Jen Post is concerned about it. Post now filters the textbook content down to 50-minute powerpoint presentations, which are the basis of lectures and exams. It's the best way to ensure students get exposed to the information in the book. Post says if she didn't do this, her students would turn instead to Google and YouTube for answers to their homework assignments. And those answers are often wrong.

"They're just thinking everything's at their fingerstips," she says, "when it might be in the book."

 

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