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Netflix deploys Frank Underwood

Mon, 2014-03-31 11:34
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 05:31 Best Buddies via Getty Images

In this handout photo provided by Best Buddies, actor Kevin Spacey performs at the Venetian Ball 2014 to celebrate the launch of Best Buddies Macao Association on March 15, 2014 in Macau.

The Netflix hit show House of Cards might be about Washington, DC but many of the scenes are shot in Maryland. The show has been lobbying the state congress for tax breaks but their tactics aren't going over well.
 
At first House of Card's lobbying efforts were all wine and roses. They hired a top rated lobbyist.

"They held a big shmoozy event with lots of  liquor flowing," says Jennifer Bevan-Dangel is with Common Cause, a legislative watchdog.

The actor Kevin Spacey was at the event glad-handing politicians. Spacey plays the house whip, Frank Underwood in the show. But when the votes for the tax break bill looked uncertain, the producers pulled a stunt. 

"They sent this letter that was very threatening, they said if you don't meet our request, we'll be pulling our production out of the state," says Brevan-Dangel.

Paul Pinsky, a Maryland state senator, says Frank Underwood would have done it a different way. "I think if Frank Underwood would advise someone, I think he'd say, if you're going to threaten the governor, whisper in his ear," Pinsky says, "You don't write a letter and put it on paper."

The letter was actually sent to lawmakers, but you get the picture. Several of them are now threatening to use eminent domain to seize the House of Cards property if it stops shooting. High-drama to be sure, though maybe not what Netflix was looking for.

Marketplace Morning Report for Tuesday, April 1, 2014Marketplace Tech for Tuesday, April 1, 2014by Queena KimPodcast Title: Netflix deploys Frank Underwood Story Type: News StorySyndication: Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Jackson estate success is a thriller

Mon, 2014-03-31 11:30

Full disclosure: I love Michael Jackson. Deeply, completely and unironically. 

In fact, one of my first major musical memories was requesting Beat It at our 6th grade roller skating party. It was a great party -- Brian Something-or-other asked me to skate and, although I cannot now remember his last name, I do remember the amazing feeling of skating with a guy I was crazy about, to a song I was crazy about, in a black velvet sweatshirt I was crazy about and thinking to my 12-year-old self that life does not often get much better than that.

So, I will always love Michael Jackson's music. At least the old stuff. Not so sure about the ten albums that are going to be released between now and 2017. Seriously, ten albums? The first of these, Xscape, will go on pre-sale tomorrow on iTunes. It supposedly has eight songs we've never heard before... meaning there are 80 Michael Jackson songs sitting around that we've never heard before?! 80 songs? Even post-mortem, Michael Jackson is making me feel lazy. 

He's also wiping the floor with me (and most everyone else) financially. The man is earning $1 billion a year. Billboard did a great breakdown of all of the places MJ's money is coming from. Namely: Music sales, music publishing deals, DVD sales from This Is It, a hit show in Vegas and a bunch of huge record and ad deals with Sony.

In researching this piece, I watched a lot of old Michael Jackson videos on YouTube. The video for Remember The Time = Mind. Blowing. Eddie Murphy as the jealous Pharoah? Where was this man's Oscar? Iman as the gorgeous Pharoahette ... torn between her deep love for Michael Jackson and ... well, actually, she doesn't seem torn at all. Poor Eddie Murphy. I mean, MJ is an amazing dancer, but he's in this weird see-through skirt and black slacks and a shiny gold breast-plate looking ... you know, not exactly like a man's man and he's just out-and-out walking off with Eddie Murphy's woman.

To me, this demonstrates a couple of things.

Number one: Women love a man who can dance (or skate... that was, as I remember, a large part of Brian Something-or-other's appeal).

And number two: never underestimate Michael Jackson. The man is no longer alive and he is still out-earning, out-producing and out-dancing us all.

9 other artists who had posthumous success

By Shea Huffman

Michael Jackson isn't the first artist to have continued success in their career after death. Popular musicians often resonate with audiences long after their passing, and their record sales sometimes see a sizeable bump shortly after they die, especially if it happens suddenly or tragically. Here is a look at artists that have continued to top the charts, or at least consistently sell albums, after their death:

Note: Sales figures are limited by the fact that Nielsen SoundScan only began tracking album sales in 1991.

Elvis Presley

Died: 1977

Album sales since 1991: 31.2 million

"The King" helped popularize rock 'n' roll and became one of the first true music superstars. He continues to be one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Janis Joplin


Died: 1970

Album sales since 1991: 7.8 million

Joplin's best-selling album, Pearl, was actually release in 1971, after her death. Joplin influenced generations of singers.

John Lennon

Died: 1980

Album sales since 1991: 4.4 million (solo); 57.6 million (The Beatles)

If you include his time with The Beatles, John Lennon has sold more poshumous records than any other artist. Shortly after his death, Lennon's album Double Fantasy shot to the number one spot on Billboard's charts, and included the top song, (Just Like) Starting Over.

Jimi Hendrix

Died: 1970

Album sales since 1991: 15.5 million

Jimi Hendrix, considered to be one of the best rock guitarists of all time, only released several albums in his lifetime. Albums of unreleased material and recordings of live shows have surfaced over the years, however, with a number of hit songs.

Bob Marley

Died: 1981

Album sales since 1991: 25 million

The Jamacian musician responsible for hits like I Shot the Sheriff and One Love had deep roots in the beginnings of the reggae genre.

Freddie Mercury

Died: 1981

Album sales since 1991: 19.3 million

As the lead singer for British rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury was known for his over-the-top performances and powerful vocals.

Kurt Cobain

Died: 1994

Album sales since 1991: 24.9 million

The lead singer and songwriter of Nirvana was responsible for some of the most influential and popular alternative rock before his suicide. After his death, Nirvana went on to release two No. 1 albums, MTV Unplugged in New York, and From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah.

Tupac Shakur

Died: 1996

Album sales since 1991: 32.2 million

The controversial rapper has seemingly been more prolific in death than he was in life. With seven albums of previously unreleased material topping the charts decades later, fans have predictably spawned conspiracy theories surrounding his death.

The Notorious B.I.G.

Died: 1997

Album sales since 1991: 11.9 million

The Notorious B.I.G. was partly responsible for boosting the visibility of the East Coast hip hop scene during an era when Tupac Shakur and other West Coast artists dominated the mainstream. He only released one album when he was alive, but his two posthumous albums, Ready to Die and Live After Death, quickly became No. 1 hits upon release.

Rising small business sales likely to continue in 2014

Mon, 2014-03-31 11:23

The business of selling businesses has long been fickle. But this year is shaping up to be a particularly active year.

Take Roy Hansen: for almost two decades, Colorado’s aspiring big rig drivers have turned to his Northern Colorado Truck Driving Academy for training.

 “This is a tractor truck and trailer now he’s parallel parking here,” says Hansen as he watches a customer back up the vehicle. “It takes some experience to do this. You can’t just wing it.”

Truck-driving jobs are in high demand because of increased construction in the region and clean up from Colorado’s floods last year. With a thriving business Hansen’s now focusing on retirement. This month he put his school up for sale with a broker.

“I turn 69 next month. And you know, it’s just time to do it,” he says.

A growing number of boomers are eyeing retirement now. Those who own small businesses and want to cash out have had to be patient since the last recession. This is where brokers who match buyers and sellers can help out.

“There’s always a three-year look back. The banks want to see three years financial statements, the buyers want to see three to five [years],” says Ben Mahrle with Mountain States Business Brokers Group.

Mahrle explains there’s often a lag between an economic recovery and the ability of business brokers to close deals. “If the most recent year -- or the most recent two years -- are in decline, you’re not going to get the loan. End of story,” he says.

That picture has changed. Last year the popular online marketplace Bizbuysell.com reported a 49 percent jump in small business sales. Scott Bushkie, a board member with the International Business Brokers Association, says this year could be even better.

“Kinda the perfect storm,” he says. “You got more buyers with a lot of cash. You’ve got more baby boomers coming out into the marketplace, and financing is getting more aggressive each and every day.”

As a broker himself, Bushkie says he’s starting to see interest from business owners who first tried to sell around the Great Recession. He says they have the feeling now is a great window of opportunity.

Why adapting to climate change is so difficult

Mon, 2014-03-31 11:10

The newest report on climate change is out from the U.N. Researchers say climate change is already affecting many parts of the world—rising sea levels, heat waves. Now is the time to adapt. But figuring out how to adapt, even if you put politics aside, can be incredibly tricky for a few reasons.

People do OK handling risks we’ve experienced. “We do a pretty good job of preparing for some infectious diseases, with getting children vaccinated,” said Ben Orlove, a co-director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University. “We put we put strong housing codes into effect in earthquake prone areas.”

But, people are less good at preparing for threats that aren’t familiar -- threats like climate change. “It’s hard for us to accept risks that are uncertain, and that are far in the future,” said Orlove.

The uncertainty and the future nature of many climate change impacts, makes difficult decisions about adaptation even more difficult. 

Who should adapt? Who should pay to adapt?

 How should communities use land?

“How are you going to make all these decisions when you can’t tell them exactly at what level the sea rise is going to affect them in 2030, 2040, 2050?” said Dan Mazmanian, a professor at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.

He calls the best strategy for moving ahead “adaptive management for adaptation.” Communities adapt, and then stay flexible to adapt the way they adapt.

Many climate models look out to a future that’s too far away for us to imagine, said Mazmanian. Instead, we ought to be thinking a few decades out.  And then rethinking the rules again, and again, as the science and future gets clearer.

The cold truth about the ice business

Mon, 2014-03-31 10:57

Believe it or not, the reason those big, white ice boxes are all over the place, is pretty much thanks to one guy. His name is Frederic Tudor.

Tudor has been described as stubborn, pigheaded and occasionally a genius, but his undisputed title is “The Ice King.”

Jonathan Rees is a history professor at Colorado State University Pueblo, and he wrote the definitive (and pretty much only) book about the ice trade. It’s called “Refrigeration Nation.” Rees says in the early 1800s, this Tudor guy had a crazy idea. He’d sell ice to places that had never seen it.

"He cut off ice from New England lakes and sent it to the Caribbean and other hot spots in the world, and people had no idea what to do with it."

Tudor peddled a ship full of ice overseas on his first faithful voyage in 1806, but only about 10 percent of what was harvested made it from Boston to Martinique.  For the next four years he honed his methods, packing the ice in sawdust and straw to keep his profits from melting away. Tudor shipped ice as far away as India, floating some 200 tons and finally turning a profit in 1810.

But it was his U.S. push that would ultimately pay off in a big way for Tudor. He travelled the country getting folks to try ice, giving it away for free and convincing bartenders and shop owners of how good it could be for business. He had to teach them what to do with it, and how to make it last. A box with a little insulation, a little ventilation, a drain and some white paint to reflect the sun was the way to do that.

Rees says these ice boxes helped Las Vegas, Phoenix and Florida attract people around the turn of the century. And they even spawned other businesses – like 7-11. That store started out as an ice box in Texas in the early 1900’s, run by a guy who worked for an ice company. He started selling eggs and milk and now they sell beef jerky and Zig-Zags.

10 chilling facts about the ice biz

  1. After Frederic Tudor’s foray into ice peddling, business boomed. The ice trade grew to employee some 90,000 Americans.
  2. This video shows how crazy an “ice harvest” could be. Grown men with horses, using sharp tools to smash the very surface that was keeping them from plunging into an icy death. What could go wrong?
  3. If you didn’t get the message, ice harvesting was super, insanely dangerous. First off, it’s really cold, and numb hands plus sharp instruments equals bad news. The term “ice man’s knees” was coined in the mid-19th century to describe the bruised and bloody limbs of men who would often strike themselves with picks or get hit and knocked over by 300-lb. blocks of rogue ice. Also, there was that whole falling in the pond thing.
  4. Boston was once the ice capital of America. By 1847. Nearly 52,000 tons of ice traveled by ship or train to 28 U.S. cities, and nearly half of it came from Beantown. Back then ice-harvesting rights was a thing, and Tudor had a monopoly on most of the key ponds throughout Massachusetts.
  5. The more north, the better when it comes to ice. Ice boomtowns sprouted along the Kennebec River in Maine, where ice farmers could work year round.
  6. The iceman was kind of like the milkman for ice. Okay, he was the milkman for ice. He'd bring you a big old block in a wagon and it was up to you to chip it off yourself. An ice cube back then was called an "ice cake," and it was often big enough to be thrown over your shoulder. 
  7. 7-11 started as an ice house in 1927, until “Uncle Johnny” Jefferson Green, began selling milk, bread and eggs that he kept cold with his product.
  8. Packaged bags of ice are still a $2.5 billion business. There are over 2,000 retailers who sell it. Apparently there are a lot more tailgates and keggers than you’d think.
  9. The average American buys four bags of packaged ice each year. 80 percent of all packaged ice is sold between Memorial and Labor days.
  10. There’s now an icemaker that can make a new batch of fresh cubes every 10 minutes, churning out up to 28 lbs. of sweet New England clear every day. Take that, nature!

Wikimedia Commons

Crowley Russell, Ice Man.

The cold truth about the ice business

Mon, 2014-03-31 10:57

Believe it or not, the reason those big, white ice boxes are all over the place, is pretty much thanks to one guy. His name is Frederic Tudor.

Tudor has been described as stubborn, pigheaded and occasionally a genius, but his undisputed title is “The Ice King.”

Jonathan Rees is a history professor at Colorado State University Pueblo, and he wrote the definitive (and pretty much only) book about the ice trade. It’s called “Refrigeration Nation.” Rees says in the early 1800s, this Tudor guy had a crazy idea. He’d sell ice to places that had never seen it.

"He cut off ice from New England lakes and sent it to the Caribbean and other hot spots in the world, and people had no idea what to do with it."

Tudor peddled a ship full of ice overseas on his first faithful voyage in 1806, but only about 10 percent of what was harvested made it from Boston to Martinique.  For the next four years he honed his methods, packing the ice in sawdust and straw to keep his profits from melting away. Tudor shipped ice as far away as India, floating some 200 tons and finally turning a profit in 1810.

But it was his U.S. push that would ultimately pay off in a big way for Tudor. He travelled the country getting folks to try ice, giving it away for free and convincing bartenders and shop owners of how good it could be for business. He had to teach them what to do with it, and how to make it last. A box with a little insulation, a little ventilation, a drain and some white paint to reflect the sun was the way to do that.

Rees says these ice boxes helped Las Vegas, Phoenix and Florida attract people around the turn of the century. And they even spawned other businesses – like 7-11. That store started out as an ice box in Texas in the early 1900’s, run by a guy who worked for an ice company. He started selling eggs and milk and now they sell beef jerky and Zig-Zags.

10 chilling facts about the ice biz

  1. After Frederic Tudor’s foray into ice peddling, business boomed. The ice trade grew to employee some 90,000 Americans.
  2. This video shows how crazy an “ice harvest” could be. Grown men with horses, using sharp tools to smash the very surface that was keeping them from plunging into an icy death. What could go wrong?
  3. If you didn’t get the message, ice harvesting was super, insanely dangerous. First off, it’s really cold, and numb hands plus sharp instruments equals bad news. The term “ice man’s knees” was coined in the mid-19th century to describe the bruised and bloody limbs of men who would often strike themselves with picks or get hit and knocked over by 300-lb. blocks of rogue ice. Also, there was that whole falling in the pond thing.
  4. Boston was once the ice capital of America. By 1847. Nearly 52,000 tons of ice traveled by ship or train to 28 U.S. cities, and nearly half of it came from Beantown. Back then ice-harvesting rights was a thing, and Tudor had a monopoly on most of the key ponds throughout Massachusetts.
  5. The more north, the better when it comes to ice. Ice boomtowns sprouted along the Kennebec River in Maine, where ice farmers could work year round.
  6. The iceman was kind of like the milkman for ice. Okay, he was the milkman for ice. He'd bring you a big old block in a wagon and it was up to you to chip it off yourself. An ice cube back then was called an "ice cake," and it was often big enough to be thrown over your shoulder. 
  7. 7-11 started as an ice house in 1927, until “Uncle Johnny” Jefferson Green, began selling milk, bread and eggs that he kept cold with his product.
  8. Packaged bags of ice are still a $2.5 billion business. There are over 2,000 retailers who sell it. Apparently there are a lot more tailgates and keggers than you’d think.
  9. The average American buys four bags of packaged ice each year. 80 percent of all packaged ice is sold between Memorial and Labor days.
  10. There’s now an icemaker that can make a new batch of fresh cubes every 10 minutes, churning out up to 28 lbs. of sweet New England clear every day. Take that, nature!

Wikimedia Commons

Crowley Russell, Ice Man.

As fast food makes inroads, India's obesity rate rockets

Mon, 2014-03-31 10:31
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 13:20 STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Indian Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan poses with Ronald McDonald the clown during a promotional event for the Hindi film 'Agneepath' in Mumbai.

India, with a population of more than a billion people, used to have regular food shortages.

Increasing prosperity has expanded the middle class and globalization has brought many western-style fast-food outlets to the country. The BBC's Rahul Tandon reports from Calcutta that, while many well-to-do young Indians binge on burgers and fries, obesity is rocketing and many poor Indians still find it hard to feed themselves. The report is part of a special BBC-Marketplace series on the increasingly global problem of obesity.

Marketplace for Monday, March 31, 2014 BBC World Service: The cost of obesityby Rahul TandonPodcast Title: As fast food makes inroads, India's obesity rate rocketsStory Type: FeatureSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

As fast food makes inroads, India's obesity rate rockets

Mon, 2014-03-31 10:20

India, with a population of more than a billion people, used to have regular food shortages.

Increasing prosperity has expanded the middle class and globalization has brought many western-style fast-food outlets to the country. The BBC's Rahul Tandon reports from Calcutta that, while many well-to-do young Indians binge on burgers and fries, obesity is rocketing and many poor Indians still find it hard to feed themselves. The report is part of a special BBC-Marketplace series on the increasingly global problem of obesity.

Happy Birthday, world's most valuable company

Mon, 2014-03-31 10:18

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Tuesday, April 1 -- also known as April Fools' Day. Tip: Make a note to yourself so you remember:

  • Was there a lot of traffic on car lots last month? Automakers are slated to report sales.
  • Thirty-eight years ago Apple was founded.
  • And April is National Decorating Month. Feng Shui your cube, living room, or man cave.

Back up a sec: what's a 'rear-view visibility system?'

Mon, 2014-03-31 09:37

Your car will soon have something called a "rear view visibility system" (otherwise known as a video camera) that helps you actually see behind you as you back up.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will begin phasing the cameras into 2016 models. The cost per vehicle is about $130, though the agency estimates most automakers will already have put in cameras way before the deadline.

Thanks, consumer demand.

 

Jackson estate success is a thriller

Mon, 2014-03-31 09:32
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 14:30 Phil Walter/Getty Images

Michael Jackson performs on stage during is 'HIStory' world tour concert at Ericsson Stadium November 10, 1996 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Full disclosure: I love Michael Jackson. Deeply, completely and unironically. 

In fact, one of my first major musical memories was requesting Beat It at our 6th grade roller skating party. It was a great party -- Brian Something-or-other asked me to skate and, although I cannot now remember his last name, I do remember the amazing feeling of skating with a guy I was crazy about, to a song I was crazy about, in a black velvet sweatshirt I was crazy about and thinking to my 12-year-old self that life does not often get much better than that.

So, I will always love Michael Jackson's music. At least the old stuff. Not so sure about the ten albums that are going to be released between now and 2017. Seriously, ten albums? The first of these, Xscape, will go on pre-sale tomorrow on iTunes. It supposedly has eight songs we've never heard before... meaning there are 80 Michael Jackson songs sitting around that we've never heard before?! 80 songs? Even post-mortem, Michael Jackson is making me feel lazy. 

He's also wiping the floor with me (and most everyone else) financially. The man is earning $1 billion a year. Billboard did a great breakdown of all of the places MJ's money is coming from. Namely: Music sales, music publishing deals, DVD sales from This Is It, a hit show in Vegas and a bunch of huge record and ad deals with Sony.

In researching this piece, I watched a lot of old Michael Jackson videos on YouTube. The video for Remember The Time = Mind. Blowing. Eddie Murphy as the jealous Pharoah? Where was this man's Oscar? Iman as the gorgeous Pharoahette ... torn between her deep love for Michael Jackson and ... well, actually, she doesn't seem torn at all. Poor Eddie Murphy. I mean, MJ is an amazing dancer, but he's in this weird see-through skirt and black slacks and a shiny gold breast-plate looking ... you know, not exactly like a man's man and he's just out-and-out walking off with Eddie Murphy's woman.

To me, this demonstrates a couple of things.

Number one: Women love a man who can dance (or skate... that was, as I remember, a large part of Brian Something-or-other's appeal).

And number two: never underestimate Michael Jackson. The man is no longer alive and he is still out-earning, out-producing and out-dancing us all.

9 other artists who had posthumous success

By Shea Huffman

Michael Jackson isn't the first artist to have continued success in their career after death. Popular musicians often resonate with audiences long after their passing, and their record sales sometimes see a sizeable bump shortly after they die, especially if it happens suddenly or tragically. Here is a look at artists that have continued to top the charts, or at least consistently sell albums, after their death:

Note: Sales figures are limited by the fact that Nielsen SoundScan only began tracking album sales in 1991.

Elvis Presley

Died: 1977

Album sales since 1991: 31.2 million

"The King" helped popularize rock 'n' roll and became one of the first true music superstars. He continues to be one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Janis Joplin


Died: 1970

Album sales since 1991: 7.8 million

Joplin's best-selling album, Pearl, was actually release in 1971, after her death. Joplin influenced generations of singers.

John Lennon

Died: 1980

Album sales since 1991: 4.4 million (solo); 57.6 million (The Beatles)

If you include his time with The Beatles, John Lennon has sold more poshumous records than any other artist. Shortly after his death, Lennon's album Double Fantasy shot to the number one spot on Billboard's charts, and included the top song, (Just Like) Starting Over.

Jimi Hendrix

Died: 1970

Album sales since 1991: 15.5 million

Jimi Hendrix, considered to be one of the best rock guitarists of all time, only released several albums in his lifetime. Albums of unreleased material and recordings of live shows have surfaced over the years, however, with a number of hit songs.

Bob Marley

Died: 1981

Album sales since 1991: 25 million

The Jamacian musician responsible for hits like I Shot the Sheriff and One Love had deep roots in the beginnings of the reggae genre.

Freddie Mercury

Died: 1981

Album sales since 1991: 19.3 million

As the lead singer for British rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury was known for his over-the-top performances and powerful vocals.

Kurt Cobain

Died: 1994

Album sales since 1991: 24.9 million

The lead singer and songwriter of Nirvana was responsible for some of the most influential and popular alternative rock before his suicide. After his death, Nirvana went on to release two No. 1 albums, MTV Unplugged in New York, and From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah.

Tupac Shakur

Died: 1996

Album sales since 1991: 32.2 million

The controversial rapper has seemingly been more prolific in death than he was in life. With seven albums of previously unreleased material topping the charts decades later, fans have predictably spawned conspiracy theories surrounding his death.

The Notorious B.I.G.

Died: 1997

Album sales since 1991: 11.9 million

The Notorious B.I.G. was partly responsible for boosting the visibility of the East Coast hip hop scene during an era when Tupac Shakur and other West Coast artists dominated the mainstream. He only released one album when he was alive, but his two posthumous albums, Ready to Die and Live After Death, quickly became No. 1 hits upon release.

Marketplace for Monday, March 31, 2014 Video of Michael Jackson - Remember The Time by Stacey Vanek SmithPodcast Title: Jackson estate success is a thriller Story Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

The economics of the GM recall

Mon, 2014-03-31 09:29
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 17:28 David McNew/ Getty Images

Chevrolet Cobalts are displayed at the Sierra Chevrolet auto dealership on March 2, 2010 in Monrovia, California. A power steering problem that has been linked to 14 crashes and one injury has prompted General Motors Company to announce that it is recalling 1.3 million compact cars throughout North America. An investigation of approximately 905,000 Cobalt models in the United States by US safety regulators reveals more than 1,100 complaints of power steering failures. Models being recalled includes the 2005-2010 model year Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007-2010 Pontiac G5 in the United States as well as the 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit sold in Canada, and 2005-2006 Pontiac G4 sold in Mexico. 

General Motors CEO Mary Barra will appear before House and Senate subcommittees on Tuesday and Wednesday to answer questions related to how much the auto manufacturer knew about ignition switch problems which have been linked to at least thirteen deaths and the recall of 2.6 million vehicles.

Watch the House Energy and Commerce Committee's live video of Tuesday's hearing here at 2:00 p.m. ET. 

Recalls in and of themselves aren’t a bad thing: some analysts think they can have an economic benefit by boosting trust between car owners and automakers.

In 2013, Americans saw a bumper crop of recalls – almost 22 million of them

Here is a quotation from Barra's expected testimony on Tuesday: 

"As soon as l learned about the problem, we acted without hesitation. We told the world we had a problem that needed to be fixed. We did so because whatever mistakes were made in the past, we will not shirk from our responsibilities now and in the future. Today’s GM will do the right thing. That begins with my sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected by this recall… especially to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry.

I’ve asked former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas to conduct a thorough and unimpeded investigation of the actions of General Motors. He has free rein to go where the facts take him, regardless of the outcome. The facts will be the facts. Once they are in, my management team and I will use his findings to help assure this does not happen again. We will hold ourselves fully accountable. However, I want to stress that I’m not waiting for his results to make changes." - General Motors CEO Mary Barra 

Marketplace for Monday, March 31, 2014by Kate DavidsonPodcast Title: The economics of the recallStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Why adapting to climate change is so difficult

Mon, 2014-03-31 09:27
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 14:10 Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A Mexican woman skirts a Jaguey water hole, February 4, 2006 near San Marcos Tlacoyalco, Mexico. The Tehuacan Valley South-East of Mexico City has long experienced severe water shortages. Drought and climate change have contributed to this but recent industrial growth has also placed tremendous strain of a very limited ground water resource. Big industry has taxed this resource so severely that many small farmers and rural people have had no choice but to move closer to the cities and abandon their traditional lives. Water resources in the area area largely based on a weekly delivery by truck as well as collecting water from small pools known as Jagueys. This collected water was traditionally only used for animals but now more and more people are relying on it as a water source for crops and for drinking and bathing purposes. 

The newest report on climate change is out from the U.N. Researchers say climate change is already affecting many parts of the world—rising sea levels, heat waves. Now is the time to adapt. But figuring out how to adapt, even if you put politics aside, can be incredibly tricky for a few reasons.

People do OK handling risks we’ve experienced. “We do a pretty good job of preparing for some infectious diseases, with getting children vaccinated,” said Ben Orlove, a co-director of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University. “We put we put strong housing codes into effect in earthquake prone areas.”

But, people are less good at preparing for threats that aren’t familiar -- threats like climate change. “It’s hard for us to accept risks that are uncertain, and that are far in the future,” said Orlove.

The uncertainty and the future nature of many climate change impacts, makes difficult decisions about adaptation even more difficult. 

Who should adapt? Who should pay to adapt?

 How should communities use land?

“How are you going to make all these decisions when you can’t tell them exactly at what level the sea rise is going to affect them in 2030, 2040, 2050?” said Dan Mazmanian, a professor at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.

He calls the best strategy for moving ahead “adaptive management for adaptation.” Communities adapt, and then stay flexible to adapt the way they adapt.

Many climate models look out to a future that’s too far away for us to imagine, said Mazmanian. Instead, we ought to be thinking a few decades out.  And then rethinking the rules again, and again, as the science and future gets clearer.

Marketplace for Monday, March 31, 2014by Adriene HillPodcast Title: Why adapting to climate change is so difficultStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

What happens when you shout "buy!"

Mon, 2014-03-31 08:07

So what does happen when you shout "buy" at your broker, or hit the "enter" key when you're making an order on your online trading website? 

Well, it's not like regular shopping: it's not like walking into the butcher's shop, seeing sausages are $5 a pound, asking the butcher for five pounds, and handing over $25 in exchange for a nicely-wrapped package of pork.

The first thing to remember is that when you shout "buy!" you haven't bought anything … yet.

The second thing to understand is just because you asked to buy at a certain price doesn't mean that you'll get that price. Let's walk step-by-step through this process:

Step 1: What you've done is called placing an order. Whether you're an individual with an online trading account or a professional fund manager in charge of billions of dollars of retirement money, your purchase order is the first step in a chain of events.

Step 2: In most cases, if you're an individual investor using an online broker, your order will be routed to a completely different firm, to someone called a market maker.  Big institutions also use market makers.

Step 3: The market maker now looks around all the places where you can buy stock, from exchanges like the NASDAQ and the NYSE to electronic networks like BATS in Kansas City, to see where he or she can get the shares at a price that's closest to the price you asked for.

Step 4: The market-maker buys the shares, filling the order.

Step 5: The shares are sent to you and placed in your account.

In other words, it's a bit like going into the butcher's shop, noticing that while there are no actual sausages in there, there is a sign that says sausages are selling for $5 a pound. You ask the butcher for five pounds, watch her shout the order into the phone, wait for a moment until a messenger boy comes racing into the shop with five pounds of sausages, and then pay for them.

Except you might not pay $25. You might pay $25.50. Or $30. It depends on how much the butcher's boy can get them for.

A caveat. The process I've described above is called placing a market order. That's when you ask your broker to buy shares at a certain price – usually the price your trading software is telling you people are offering to sell their shares for.  You might consider placing a limit order, which is where you tell your broker you don't want to pay any more than a certain price per share.  That way you don’t end up forking out $50 for a bag of dodgy bangers.

And high-frequency trading? Well, some would describe that as a dog running off with your sausages, and making you pay even more for your dinner.

PODCAST: UN warns of climate change effects

Mon, 2014-03-31 06:35

A United Nations panel of experts has looked at 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies and its latest report warns of "severe, pervasive" effects, from climate change. Among the effects, deepening poverty and problems with the food supply. Matt McGrath, environment correspondent for the BBC. joins us from Yokohama, Japan where members of the UN panel have been meeting.

Meanwhile, a grab bag of 55 tax benefits expired at the end of last year, and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, wants Congress to reinstate them.

Tens of thousands of the babies born each year had a extra little help along the way from in vitro fertilization, where the sperm and the egg first meet in a piece of medical equipment.  Often in vitro clinics will transfer more than one embryo at a time. But a new statement from the National Perinatal Association says this practice can cause problems for mothers and babies.

NAACP's former head is going to Silicon Valley

Mon, 2014-03-31 05:12

We've reported from time to time on Wall Street people who want to join the cool kids and get a Silicon Valley-type technology job.  Now the former head of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, is taking a tech job -- to make the tech industry better reflect the diversity of this country. 

Jealous is joining the Kapor Center for Social Impact in Northern California, an outfit which helps find tech solutions for minority and low income communities. 

Noted entrepreneur and philanthropist Mitch Kapor, co-chair of the center, along with Jealous join Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss their work and the state of diversity in the tech sector.

Making in vitro births safer and less costly

Mon, 2014-03-31 02:05

Shortly after Megan Wood’s 26th birthday, she and her husband Brian decided to try to get pregnant. Wood says she was young and didn’t anticipate any problems, so the couple was surprised when they weren't able to conceive quickly and easily. But after spending three years pursuing less expensive medical options, the Woods traveled from their home in Idaho Falls, Idaho to California to try IVF. When they returned home Megan Wood says they got some unanticipated news.

“I was laying on the table and I remember the ultra sound tech looking over at my husband saying ‘Did you see that’?”

The couple already knew they were pregnant. Wood had transplanted two embryos hoping for one healthy baby, a decision she says they discussed at great length with her doctor, and things were going well with the pregnancy. But embryos can split -- and that’s exactly what happened to Megan Wood’s.

“It’s blazoned into my memory for all time,” she says. “I cried. I was terrified. I wasn’t afraid to raise triplets, but the thought of losing all of them was terrifying.”

A new statement from the National Perinatal Association says that because transferring more than one embryo at a time often results in multiple order pregnancies, the practice can mean dangerous and expensive births. Sean Tipton, Chief Advocacy and Policy Officer for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine says it can be very challenging to try to educate patients about the risks that multiples pose.

Of the patients he says, "They're thinking 'I want to have a baby' and many of them think twins are an optimal outcome even though from an obstrical and pediatric standpoint, twins are not optimal."

Sally Herships

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Only 15 states require insurance coverage for infertility and Wood’s home state of Idaho wasn’t one of them. So even though she describes herself as “very lucky to have a husband with a union job and good health insurance,” her IVF wasn’t covered. With the cost of medical bills, and travel to her out-of-state doctor, one cycle of IVF cost Woods $25,000. She says the high cost was a big reason they decided to take the risk of transferring more than just one embryo, although she and her husband know that medically speaking, single embryo transfers are preferable.

“We wanted to make sure that was a reasonable risk to take before transferring two embryos,” she said. “Certainly when you’re gambling that much money at just a chance to get pregnant you want your odds to be as good as possible.”

Sean Tipton says access to insurance would go a long way towards alleviating the problems of human engineered multiple births. In several states, he says, that have mandated infertility insurance coverage, the levels of multiple births are lower than in other states.

“When you can factor out the economic costs and let the decision be made on medical criteria alone,” he says, “you reduce the number of multiple births.”

Infertility, says Tipton, should be treated like a disease.

Megan Wood’s 5-year-old triplets -- Ginger, Daisy, and Edison -- were born two months early and ended up in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. According to the NPA, the average cost for multiple births like Wood’s trio is 20 times higher than for just one baby. $105,000 per twin, and $400,000 thousand or more per triplet.

“It’s not uncommon for babies to go home on heart monitors or with breathing support. Some babies end up needing interventions like tracheostomies or feeding tubes," says Erika Goyer, Program Director of Hand to Hold, a non-profit that works with families dealing with difficult pregnancies, and a board member of NPA.

Goyer says the problems that twins or triplets from multiple transplant IVF births, as well as those born of less expensive, and less precise treatments, can bankrupt families. She notes that a lot of families of children with special healthcare needs face a dilemma – how to qualify for Medicaid after leaving the hospital, a point at which coverage usually stops. Some families, she says, go to great lengths to ensure that they continue to qualify.

“Families will rearrange their finances and make changes so that they never make anything more than what they’re allowed to make and still qualify for services," Goyer says. "Some families with special needs are really faced with the choice – how do I live my life, just at the right level of poverty so that we get the health care coverage we need?”

But Goyer is also Megan Wood’s sister, and she says she understands how and why the NPA’s suggestion to transfer just one embryo at time is tough. Emotionally, she understands why families use more. But clinically, she says the safest choice is transferring just one embryo at a time.

A lot of ethical decisions, says Goyer, about in vitro fertilization need to be discussed.

“And at this point,” she notes, “those decisions are being made by the marketplace.”

Miriam Zoll, a health and reproductive rights advocate, and author of Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High Tech Babies, says part of the blame for transferring too many embryos is due to a different kind of financial pressure. The clinics that provide fertility services to prospective parents stand to gain more clients if they acheive higher sucess rates. So, althought it may not be best for couples seeking treatments, it's in the provider's best interests to transfer multiple embryos."

“The higher their success rates," says Zoll, "the more likely new customers will come to them."

Zoll says there's also the problem of inflated rates. Some in the medical industry set rates far higher than necessary, seeking to tap into fearful patients desperate to conceive and willing to pay. Reproductive work, she notes, is referred to by some care providers as the new “oil”.

But aside from wishing that insurance had covered the hefty price tag of her in vitro, now mom-to-triplets Megan Wood, says she wouldn’t change a thing about her pregnancy, even if she could.

“There’s no guarantee that you’re going to have a healthy pregnancy when you’re 21,” she says, “and there’s no guarantee that you’re going to have a healthy pregnancy when you’re 45. Pregnancy is always a gamble and it’s a gamble that we’re willing to take to become mothers.”

Doctors and developers are building apps to keep you sober

Mon, 2014-03-31 01:56

Among the endless list of health-related apps for the mobile world, there are a growing number of efforts to use your smartphone to deal with serious addiction, such as alcoholism.

But the reviews of these apps' effectiveness have been mixed. There's a new program at the University of Wisconsin that aims to support addicts after they leave a residential program. 

"Some of things that are done with the app are behind the scenes," says David Gustafson, director of the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, worked on the application project. "For instance, the GPS system monitors the movement of the person and if they come close, for instance, to a bar they've identified as being a place where they used to drink a lot, the system can begin an accelerated form of rescue."

He says the app can start off with a beep or play a message of the user talking about why it's so important for them to stay sober. Other things the app can do is connect the user to a doctor or caregiver or find a nearby supporter or friend.

Gustafson says he believes this app has proven to be more effective because it has better theory behind its development. He also says the developers have thought about the privacy concerns such an app creates.

"There is a lot of information that is stored. We can track every keystroke that a person makes on a phone," Gustafson says. "So it's also really important to be really forthright with the person, giving them options about what they want to do, for instance, if they want to turn off the GPS system, they can do that."

"We only use it for research, we don't sell the information or share it in any other way." 

Senate Finance Committee chair to review tax breaks

Mon, 2014-03-31 00:37

A grab bag of 55 tax benefits expired at the end of last year, and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, wants Congress to reinstate them.

"Although they all have the same expiration date, that’s the only thing they have in common," says Richard Kaplan, who teaches tax law at the University of Illinois. "There is no coherent theme to this package."

There are tax breaks for Americans who use mass transit, and for businesses that invest in research.

"There are some that, shall we say, have a little bit more narrow benefit," says Gabe Horowitz, with the think tank Third Way. Horowitz points to tax breaks that benefit the owners of thoroughbreds and NASCAR racetracks.

Health care deadline reveals state disparities

Mon, 2014-03-31 00:16

Monday is the deadline to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, or risk paying a penalty. Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, says the way people are experiencing Obamacare varies across the country. Take Connecticut and Oregon, for example.

Levitt says both states were enthusiastic about Obamacare, but the actual rollout in each state couldn’t be different. He says for some states, it came down to how lucky they were in choosing a developer to build their online exchange. And Connecticut has a strong history of outreach to the public around health issues.

Connecticut’s program is doing so well, it’s now offering to help other states that are having trouble with their heathcare exchanges. By contrast, Oregon is still enrolling people using paper applications because the online enrollment system still isn’t working.

Geoffrey Joyce, a heathcare professor at the University of Southern California, says right now there's too much emphasis on short term numbers.

"It's almost like looking at the stock market day to day. You're missing the bigger picture."

Joyce says that's whether Obamacare improves healthcare quality and lowers costs -- something we won't know by today's deadline.

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