Marketplace - American Public Media

Syndicate content
Updated: 49 min 13 sec ago

George Soros: U.S. could tap oil reserves to punish Russia

Tue, 2014-03-25 15:53
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 03:32 VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management, speaks to the media on Jan. 25, 2012.

The U.S has yet to use a weapon in its economic arsenal in its dispute with Russia over Ukraine. The administration could release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in a bid to reduce global oil prices and damage the Russian economy, says billionaire investor George Soros -- though he hopes it doesn't come to that.

"The strongest deterrent is in the hands of the United States because it can release oil from the strategic oil reserve," Soros says, "which would then reduce the price of oil and that would ruin the Russian economy, which lives on oil."

In an interview to promote his new book, "The Tragedy of the European Union", Soros told Marketplace that the sanctions the West is imposing on Russian oligarchs could be counter-productive. 

"The Russian economy is very weak because  the oligarchs who run the country don't trust it and they send their money abroad," Soros says. "So if you stop the inflow of funds, that will bring the Russian economy to its knees."

He says when Russian investors and oligarchs take their assets out of the country, it helps weaken the Russian economy. The sanctions, which impede the flow of money out of Russia for targeted individuals, may actually benefit Russian president Vladimir Putin's attempts to bolster his country's economy.

Soros says the U.S. and Europe need to back Ukraine's position in this dispute, rather than punish Russia.

"Ukraine is determined to reform, but it needs protection," he says. 

Soros, who worries about the state of Europe and the European Union in his book , points to the crisis in Ukraine as an example of why the world needs a strong Europe.

"It was the euro crisis that transformed this voluntary association of equals into a creditor-debtor relationship," Soros says. "And because of this transformation, we have now reached a state where you are going to have one political crisis after another."

Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday, March 26, 2014 The Tragedy of the European Union: Disintegration or Revival? Author: George Soros Publisher: PublicAffairs (2014) Binding: Hardcover, 208 pages Interview by David BrancaccioPodcast Title: George Soros: U.S. could tap oil reserves to punish RussiaStory Type: InterviewSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

The problem with "Golden Parachutes"

Tue, 2014-03-25 14:13
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 15:09 Andrew Burton/Getty Images

People walk past the entrance to the Time Warner center on August 7, 2013 in New York City.

Time Warner CEO Robert Marcus will get $80 million once his company’s sale to Comcast is finished.  Marcus was on the job for just six weeks, which makes this one of the most “golden” of “golden parachutes.”

Nancy Koehn is with the Harvard Business School. She said Golden Parachutes have been around for at least a generation of CEO compensation and they are important for keeping CEOs in the fold when changes of control happen.

Koehn said the idea of “Golden Parachutes” is up for debate.

“Data does not support that if you pay someone like Robert Marcus more than a million dollars a day, that necessarily Comcast and Time Warner shareholders are going be better off, than if you paid him something that most reasonable people including compensation experts and other CEOs would recognize as some kind reward for what he’s doing; helping shepherd the sale of the company."

Koehn said the $80 million Marcus is receiving reflects the overall bar in corporate America being raised in corporate America for the senior levels or corporations.

Marketplace for Tuesday, March 25, 2014by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title: The problem with "Golden Parachutes"Syndication: Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

In which Kai Ryssdal has to settle for $22.40

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:57
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 13:52 EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

The new Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.

I got an email from Amazon this morning, telling me I had a credit of $22.40 in my account. It's a payout from the $166 million e-book price-fixing settlement.

What's interesting is how they figured out who got how much: It's $3.17 for each New York Times best-seller you bought, and $0.73 for everything else.

Did you get a settlement payout? Tell us on our RebelMouse page:

Marketplace for Tuesday, March 25, 2014by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title: In which Kai Ryssdal has to settle for $22.40Story Type: BlogSyndication: Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

The new business of lobbying

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:49
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 17:48 KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Addresses on 'K' Street are known as a center for numerous think tanks, lobbyists, and advocacy groups.

What does the word “lobbying” connote? Maybe a smoke-filled room somewhere, or multi-course meals, charged to an expense account. Well, “government affairs professionals,” as they like to call themselves, say the job has changed.

 “I think there is less golf and there are fewer martinis than ever before,” says Dan Bryant, chair of the public policy and government affairs practice group at Covington & Burling.

Still, I persist, arranging to meet Rich Gold, a partner with the firm Holland & Knight, at the Round Robin & Scotch Bar in the Willard Hotel.

According to lore, the term “lobbying” was coined there. Back in the 1870s, Gold’s professional forebears plied President Ulysses S. Grant with cigars and booze. So, as a waiter approaches, I wonder if Gold is going to pick vodka or gin.

“I guess in some ways I am kind of the breakthrough generation,” he says. “I have never had a martini at lunch.”

And the day we met is no exception.

Gold has been lobbying for two decades, and he says the culture has changed.

“There is no walking into a back room anymore, and saying, ‘I need this,’ tapping the table, and getting it done,” Gold explains. The economic downturn also affected lobbying.

“The recession came late to Washington, and the end of 2010, 2011, 2012 were relatively lean years,” he says. “And we’re seeing that in D.C., with some brand-name firms really struggling now.”

Gerry Sikorski is one of Gold’s colleagues. He heads the government section at Holland & Knight. For a decade, he represented Minnesotans in the House of Representatives. We meet in a cafeteria on Capitol Hill – where martinis aren’t on the menu, by the way.

"Lawmaking specialists are less valuable than they once were,” he says.

Sikorski says the federal government is still operating. It is still buying things, regulating industries, and collecting taxes.

“What’s changed is the overarching law making,” Sikorski explains. “Policymaking pieces of it aren’t happening.”

Sikorski says a lobbyist can’t fundamentally reinvent himself, but he can adjust, and many lobbyists have had to. Increasingly, what firms want in a lobbyist is expertise in a particular subject matter.  

According to W. Michael House, the director of Hogan Lovells’ legislative group, there are fewer lobbyists than there used to be.

Lawmakers are spending more time away from Washington. Last year, there were just 159 legislative days, when the House of Representatives was in session. And Congress isn’t passing many bills. In 2013, just 87 became law.  So, a lobbyist like House adjusts.

“We always say Washington goes legislation, regulation, litigation, legislation,” he tells me, noting we are in the regulation stage right now.

Federal agencies are working on financial reform rule writing and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and even though the legislative process is moving slowly, it is moving. There are people interested in tax reform, for example. According to House, “that’ll be a two-to-four, maybe six-year process when it’s all said and done, but the smart people get in early.”

More firms are taking what they call a “multidisciplinary approach” to lobbying. Lobbyists work hand in hand with lawyers, and some firms hire strategic communications consultants.

Back on Capitol Hill, I meet Bryant in the Hart Senate Office Building. The relatively light legislative load doesn’t seem to faze him.  

“The need to be explaining your business more, more clearly, and in a more compelling way, has never been more important both in the U.S. and elsewhere,” Bryant says, noting public policy has become “more global.”

Covington & Burling has grown its business overseas. It expanded its office in Brussels, to lobby European governments, and because many companies based in foreign countries want to lobby the U.S.

“I think as long as governments and government officials are making decisions that affect the public and that affect the business community, there will be lobbying,” he says. Although what that involves will continue to change.

Marketplace for Wednesday, March 26, 2014by David GuraStory Type: FeatureSyndication: PMPApp Respond: No

Robo... traffic cop?

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:41
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 04:00 Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images

A traffic robot cop on Triomphal boulevard of Kinshasa at the crossing of Asosa, Huileries and Patrice Lubumba streets

Imagine pulling up to an intersection and seeing a giant, solar-powered, traffic-directing robot wearing 80's sunglasses. You might expect Marty McFly to speed by on a hoverboard, or the Iron Giant to take off into the sky as he blissfully declares himself, "Suuuperman."

If you're a resident of Kinshasa, the sprawling capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, these huge, man-like traffic signals might be part of your daily commute. So far, two of these robots have been installed, and in spite of their imposing apperance, the residents enjoy having them around. According to BBC reporter Maud Jullien, it's because the work of traffic directing is often done by policemen; a force not respected by the general public because of frequent harassment. One Kinshasa resident told Jullien that he actually prefers the robots to policemen simply because they do their job:

"The robot is better than policemen because it does its job according to the order. It doesn't bother us, ask for documents, or arrest us."

Marketplace Tech for Wednesday, March 26, 2014by Ben JohnsonPodcast Title: Robo... traffic cop?Story Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Disney taps news exec to run TV biz

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:30

Ben Sherwood, currently head of ABC’s news division, will take over as president of Disney/ABC Television Group, giving him oversight of the broadcast network as well as the cable assets. It was under Sherwood’s watch that ABC’s Good Morning America topped NBC’s Today Show, a hugely profitable win.

Sherwood is not the first newsie thrown into running a whole network. It hasn’t always gone well, but Disney’s hoping Sherwood will be like Howard Stringer, another former news chief who went on to successful runs leading CBS and Sony.

Disney has some high performing cable channels, but its flagship broadcast network is hurting. Sherwood will need to find new winning comedies and deal with the problems hurting other networks, especially audience fragmentation online and difficulty attracting young male viewers.

Mark Garrison: Sherwood’s credited with powering ABC’s Good Morning America to the top, a hugely profitable win. He’s not the first newsie thrown into running a whole network. NBC tried it, when it tapped Today Show producer Jeff Zucker. But it didn’t go well, says TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall.

Andrew Tyndall: It turns out that in the programming of NBC, when Zucker was in control, his prime time programming moves were not successful at all and then he ended up back in a journalistic institution, which is CNN.

Disney’s betting that Sherwood will be more like Howard Stringer, another former news chief who went on to successful runs leading CBS and Sony. Sherwood inherits a mixed bag. Disney has some strong cable channels. But Edward Jones analyst Robin Diedrich says the flagship broadcast network is hurting.

Robin Diedrich: They’ve been declining over the last several years and that’s really keeping in step, though, with the broader industry. So we see ABC kind of in line with the group from that standpoint.

The network has hits, but also holes.

Brad Adgate: One area would be comedy. Modern Family is obviously Emmy Award-winning comedy year in and year out. But it’s entering its sixth season. They really haven’t had too much success creating a comedy block.

Horizon Media’s Brad Adgate says Sherwood could set himself apart by solving a puzzle all networks now struggle with.

Adgate: One of the goals has been to get scripted shows for men, particularly young men, but, you know, they’re hard to reach and harder to reach on television.

That’s because they’re online, like so many other viewers. And that’s another challenge, herding those eyeballs into Disney’s tent. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Disney taps news exec to run TV biz

Tue, 2014-03-25 13:30

Ben Sherwood, currently head of ABC’s news division, will take over as president of Disney/ABC Television Group, giving him oversight of the broadcast network as well as the cable assets. It was under Sherwood’s watch that ABC’s Good Morning America topped NBC’s Today Show, a hugely profitable win.

Sherwood is not the first newsie thrown into running a whole network. It hasn’t always gone well, but Disney’s hoping Sherwood will be like Howard Stringer, another former news chief who went on to successful runs leading CBS and Sony.

Disney has some high performing cable channels, but its flagship broadcast network is hurting. Sherwood will need to find new winning comedies and deal with the problems hurting other networks, especially audience fragmentation online and difficulty attracting young male viewers.

Mark Garrison: Sherwood’s credited with powering ABC’s Good Morning America to the top, a hugely profitable win. He’s not the first newsie thrown into running a whole network. NBC tried it, when it tapped Today Show producer Jeff Zucker. But it didn’t go well, says TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall.

Andrew Tyndall: It turns out that in the programming of NBC, when Zucker was in control, his prime time programming moves were not successful at all and then he ended up back in a journalistic institution, which is CNN.

Disney’s betting that Sherwood will be more like Howard Stringer, another former news chief who went on to successful runs leading CBS and Sony. Sherwood inherits a mixed bag. Disney has some strong cable channels. But Edward Jones analyst Robin Diedrich says the flagship broadcast network is hurting.

Robin Diedrich: They’ve been declining over the last several years and that’s really keeping in step, though, with the broader industry. So we see ABC kind of in line with the group from that standpoint.

The network has hits, but also holes.

Brad Adgate: One area would be comedy. Modern Family is obviously Emmy Award-winning comedy year in and year out. But it’s entering its sixth season. They really haven’t had too much success creating a comedy block.

Horizon Media’s Brad Adgate says Sherwood could set himself apart by solving a puzzle all networks now struggle with.

Adgate: One of the goals has been to get scripted shows for men, particularly young men, but, you know, they’re hard to reach and harder to reach on television.

That’s because they’re online, like so many other viewers. And that’s another challenge, herding those eyeballs into Disney’s tent. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

The sweet smell of King Digital's Candy Crush success

Tue, 2014-03-25 12:54
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 04:00 King Digital Entertainment

Screenshot of Candy Crush Saga logo from King Digital Entertainment PLC, on February 19, 2014. 

Look up from your phones, everybody.

The maker of the highly addictive puzzle game Candy Crush Saga goes public Wednesday. King Digital Entertainment racked up $1.8 billion in sales last year, largely using a "freemium" business model -- when you download a game for free, but spend on extras inside the game.

Analysts say King Digital's success comes from marrying good data analytics – understanding when casual gamers spend and why – with good game development.

 

 

Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday, March 26, 2014How to game Candy Crushby Kate DavidsonPodcast Title: The sweet smell of King Digital's Candy Crush successStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Traffic and unemployment are making you sick

Tue, 2014-03-25 12:52
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 03:52 Matthew Stockman/ALLSPORT

Rush hour traffic in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. (2 Apr 1996)

Commuting can make you sick.  

A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examines health in the U.S. county by county, looking at less obvious causes of illness, including joblessness and traffic. 

“You might ask, what does that have to do with my health,” says Michelle Larkin,  assistant vice president of  the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “But think about it. When we’re in the car taking long commutes we’re probably in a heightened state of stress.”


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

And stress can lead to problems like heart disease. Turns out unemployment is unhealthy, too, because without a paycheck you can't buy good food, and may not be able to see the doctor when you’re sick.

It all adds up.  The premature death rate in the least healthy counties is twice the rate of the healthy ones.   Same thing for children living in poverty, and teen births.  

Marketplace Morning Report for Wednesday, March 26, 2014by Nancy Marshall-GenzerPodcast Title: Traffic and unemployment are making you sickStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

The IRS labels bitcoin an asset

Tue, 2014-03-25 12:33
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 15:30 George Frey/Getty Images

A pile of Bitcoins are shown here after Software engineer Mike Caldwell minted them in his shop on April 26, 2013 in Sandy, Utah.

The Internal Revenue Service ruled today that Bitcoin would be treated like an asset for tax purposes. Here to explain what that really means is our New York editor, Paddy Hirsch, author of "Man vs Markets."

What just happened?
As soon as bitcoin started to appreciate in value, the IRS decided it wanted a piece of the action. It needed to decide quickly, if wanted to collect taxes from bitcoin gains this tax season!

The question was, whether to tax it as a currency, or a commodity, or an asset. In other words, is bitcoin like a change-purse full of Euros (currency), or is it like a bar of gold (commodity), or it is like a load of company stock (asset).

Today it decided that bitcoin will be treated as an asset, so any money you make from mining or selling bitcoin will be treated as though you earned or sold shares.

What does that mean?
It means if you mine bitcoin, you’ll have to declare it as taxable income with a value equal to the worth of the Bitcoin on the day it was mined. Also, if you spend bitcoin, you may end up paying taxes on the value of the appreciation.

What does that really mean?
Say you have a dollar’s worth of bitcoin. Overnight bitcoin doubles in value – which isn’t outside the bounds of possibility, after all! Your local pub is offering a promotional IPA for two bucks. If the barkeep accepts your bitcoin for that beer, you will have to declare the capital gain on that dollar’s worth of bitcoin – which has, of course doubled in value.

So you get a beer, but you also get a tax bill.

But what if my bitcoin loses value?
Well then you can subtract that loss from your capital gains and your income.  Which is pretty cool.

Does this make bitcoin more accessible or more acceptable?
It makes it more acceptable to the IRS, certainly. But it doesn’t make things much different for the average person.  In fact, because the IRS has decided it’s not a currency, Bitcoin accounts aren’t likely to see the kind of regulatory protections that bank accounts receive, like FDIC insurance. But it is a sign that regulation is moving quickly to embrace Bitcoin … which is good for Bitcoin.

Marketplace for Tuesday, March 25, 2014Interview with Paddy HirschPodcast Title: The IRS labels bitcoin an assetSyndication: Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

The IRS labels bitcoin an asset

Tue, 2014-03-25 12:30

The Internal Revenue Service ruled today that Bitcoin would be treated like an asset for tax purposes. Here to explain what that really means is our New York editor, Paddy Hirsch, author of "Man vs Markets."

What just happened?
As soon as bitcoin started to appreciate in value, the IRS decided it wanted a piece of the action. It needed to decide quickly, if wanted to collect taxes from bitcoin gains this tax season!

The question was, whether to tax it as a currency, or a commodity, or an asset. In other words, is bitcoin like a change-purse full of Euros (currency), or is it like a bar of gold (commodity), or it is like a load of company stock (asset).

Today it decided that bitcoin will be treated as an asset, so any money you make from mining or selling bitcoin will be treated as though you earned or sold shares.

What does that mean?
It means if you mine bitcoin, you’ll have to declare it as taxable income with a value equal to the worth of the Bitcoin on the day it was mined. Also, if you spend bitcoin, you may end up paying taxes on the value of the appreciation.

What does that really mean?
Say you have a dollar’s worth of bitcoin. Overnight bitcoin doubles in value – which isn’t outside the bounds of possibility, after all! Your local pub is offering a promotional IPA for two bucks. If the barkeep accepts your bitcoin for that beer, you will have to declare the capital gain on that dollar’s worth of bitcoin – which has, of course doubled in value.

So you get a beer, but you also get a tax bill.

But what if my bitcoin loses value?
Well then you can subtract that loss from your capital gains and your income.  Which is pretty cool.

Does this make bitcoin more accessible or more acceptable?
It makes it more acceptable to the IRS, certainly. But it doesn’t make things much different for the average person.  In fact, because the IRS has decided it’s not a currency, Bitcoin accounts aren’t likely to see the kind of regulatory protections that bank accounts receive, like FDIC insurance. But it is a sign that regulation is moving quickly to embrace Bitcoin … which is good for Bitcoin.

The problem with "Golden Parachutes"

Tue, 2014-03-25 12:09

Time Warner CEO Robert Marcus will get $80 million once his company’s sale to Comcast is finished.  Marcus was on the job for just six weeks, which makes this one of the most “golden” of “golden parachutes.”

Nancy Koehn is with the Harvard Business School. She said Golden Parachutes have been around for at least a generation of CEO compensation and they are important for keeping CEOs in the fold when changes of control happen.

Koehn said the idea of “Golden Parachutes” is up for debate.

“Data does not support that if you pay someone like Robert Marcus more than a million dollars a day, that necessarily Comcast and Time Warner shareholders are going be better off, than if you paid him something that most reasonable people including compensation experts and other CEOs would recognize as some kind reward for what he’s doing; helping shepherd the sale of the company."

Koehn said the $80 million Marcus is receiving reflects the overall bar in corporate America being raised in corporate America for the senior levels or corporations.

Oil and gas will drive future control of the South China Sea

Tue, 2014-03-25 11:13

The global geopolitical conversation this week is focused on Europe and Ukraine and what the G7 is going do about Russia.

However, eventually and probably sooner rather than later, the conversation is going to turn back to Asia. President Obama's got a trip scheduled to the region next month, and somewhere in his conversations with leaders there the South China Sea is going to come up; who gets to control it and who gets the oil and natural gas reserves that are under the ocean floor.

In his new book “Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and The End of a Stable Pacific”, Robert Kaplan breaks down how a possible dispute over the South China Sea could have a substantial impact.

Kaplan notes that the South China Sea is said to have oil reserves of seven billion barrels and over 900 cubic feet of natural gas. This makes it very attractive to countries in the region. Kaplan said the biggest competitor for control of the South China Sea is China. 

“The Chinese themselves claim what’s called the nine dash line or the whole heart of the sea itself” said Kaplan. “China sees the South China Sea, the way the United States saw the Caribbean in the 19th and early 20th century; as the blue water extension of its continental landmass that it must dominate”.

Kaplan said the possible dispute over who owns the South China Sea could have a staunching economic impact.

“If the pacific is no longer stable, that will affect investment, growth rates, etc.” said Kaplan. “If you ask me what’s the biggest question in the world today; it’s not ‘Will Iran get its Nukes?’ it’s the direction of the Chinese economy.”

China claims that the South China Sea will produce 130 million barrels of oil.  Kaplan said that if this calculation is correct, the South China Sea is only second to Saudi Arabia in terms of how much oil it has.

Oil and gas will drive future control of the South China Sea

Tue, 2014-03-25 11:13

The global geopolitical conversation this week is focused on Europe and Ukraine and what the G7 is going do about Russia.

However, eventually and probably sooner rather than later, the conversation is going to turn back to Asia. President Obama's got a trip scheduled to the region next month, and somewhere in his conversations with leaders there the South China Sea is going to come up; who gets to control it and who gets the oil and natural gas reserves that are under the ocean floor.

In his new book “Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and The End of a Stable Pacific”, Robert Kaplan breaks down how a possible dispute over the South China Sea could have a substantial impact.

Kaplan notes that the South China Sea is said to have oil reserves of seven billion barrels and over 900 cubic feet of natural gas. This makes it very attractive to countries in the region. Kaplan said the biggest competitor for control of the South China Sea is China. 

“The Chinese themselves claim what’s called the nine dash line or the whole heart of the sea itself” said Kaplan. “China sees the South China Sea, the way the United States saw the Caribbean in the 19th and early 20th century; as the blue water extension of its continental landmass that it must dominate”.

Kaplan said the possible dispute over who owns the South China Sea could have a staunching economic impact.

“If the pacific is no longer stable, that will affect investment, growth rates, etc.” said Kaplan. “If you ask me what’s the biggest question in the world today; it’s not ‘Will Iran get its Nukes?’ it’s the direction of the Chinese economy.”

China claims that the South China Sea will produce 130 million barrels of oil.  Kaplan said that if this calculation is correct, the South China Sea is only second to Saudi Arabia in terms of how much oil it has.

Oil and gas will drive disputes on future control of the South China Sea

Tue, 2014-03-25 11:13

The global geopolitical conversation this week is focused on Europe and Ukraine and what the G7 is going do about Russia.

However, eventually and probably sooner rather than later, the conversation is going to turn back to Asia. President Obama's got a trip scheduled to the region next month, and somewhere in his conversations with leaders there the South China Sea is going to come up; who gets to control it and who gets the oil and natural gas reserves that are under the ocean floor.

In his new book “Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and The End of a Stable Pacific”, Robert Kaplan breaks down how a possible dispute over the South China Sea could have a substantial impact.

Kaplan notes that the South China Sea is said to have oil reserves of seven billion barrels and over 900 cubic feet of natural gas. This makes it very attractive to countries in the region. Kaplan said the biggest competitor for control of the South China Sea is China. 

“The Chinese themselves claim what’s called the nine dash line or the whole heart of the sea itself” said Kaplan. “China sees the South China Sea, the way the United States saw the Caribbean in the 19th and early 20th century; as the blue water extension of its continental landmass that it must dominate”.

Kaplan said the possible dispute over who owns the South China Sea could have a staunching economic impact.

“If the pacific is no longer stable, that will affect investment, growth rates, etc.” said Kaplan. “If you ask me what’s the biggest question in the world today; it’s not ‘Will Iran get its Nukes?’ it’s the direction of the Chinese economy.”

China claims that the South China Sea will produce 130 million barrels of oil.  Kaplan said that if this calculation is correct, the South China Sea is only second to Saudi Arabia in terms of how much oil it has.

In which Kai Ryssdal has to settle for $22.40

Tue, 2014-03-25 10:52

I got an email from Amazon this morning, telling me I had a credit of $22.40 in my account. It's a payout from the $166 million e-book price-fixing settlement.

What's interesting is how they figured out who got how much: It's $3.17 for each New York Times best-seller you bought, and $0.73 for everything else.

Did you get a settlement payout? Tell us on our RebelMouse page:

MOOC 2.0: Open online education moves forward

Tue, 2014-03-25 10:32

 There are some new developments this week in the land of the MOOC. That’s shorthand for the "Massive Open Online Courses" that were supposed to transform higher education as we know it, bringing free education from the likes of Harvard and Stanford to you and me.

MOOC pioneer Coursera has hired a new CEO -- none other than the former long-time president of Yale University, Richard Levin.

Meanwhile Coursera competitor edX has a new president from the business world -- former Vistaprint executive Wendy Cebula. The hires mark a new phase in the evolution of free online education as it tries to move beyond the initial hype -- and the inevitable backlash.

"Clearly there's a big jump between the credibility of two Stanford faculty members and someone who's a 20-year president of Yale University," says Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller. "I think this really makes clear that we are not out to put universities out of business -- have never been out to do that."

Six signs that MOOCs are growing up

by Marc Sollinger

MOOCs, or Massively Open Online Courses, are pretty much exactly what their acronym implies: college courses offered on the web that anyone can take. The actual format of the courses vary by what actual work is required and whether they're free or require payment. Critics say they’re overhyped.  However you parse it, MOOCs are becoming a big deal. Here are six signs they’re growing up: 

1. Ex-Yale president joins Coursera

Coursera is the largest provider of MOOCs, with 532 courses offered. And Richard C. Levin, who ran Yale for 20 years, will be it’s CEO. This development means Coursera will be led by someone with lots of ties the world of brick-and-mortar higher ed. This move could show that Coursera is looking to get at least some of its courses accredited. (So far, none of the schools that create content for Coursera actually offer credit for courses taken.)

2. Thomas Friedman thinks MOOCs might save the world

Well, perhaps not save the world. But Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, does think that “nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty.” It’s not just Friedman that thinks MOOCs might change education -- they’ve been praised in Al Jazeera, elsewhere in the New York Times, and Wired. Though MOOCs have had their share of criticism, the idea that they could democratize education is widely-held.

3. MOOCs go global

It’s not just U.S. colleges that are offering MOOCs. Universities in Finland, France, and Ireland also have their own massive online courses. In the U.K. they’ve launched FutureLearn, which offers courses from 23 local universities. Part of the appeal of MOOCs is that anyone from across the globe can access them and increasingly, the courses can come from anywhere as well. In fact, one Harvard professor’s course was so popular in South Korea, he was invited to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game in that country.

4. Wharton puts its first year online

Last year, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most prestigious business schools in the U.S., put much of its first-year MBA content online. Though you won’t get access to career services or an alumni network, and the courses aren’t actually for credit, you can still access all the information presented to a beginning Wharton student. This interest in MOOCs is not atypical of top-tier business schools, with seven of Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Top 10 Business Schools experimenting with them. 

5. MOOCs help train physician’s assistants in Ghana

A team at the University of New Mexico has partnered with Central University College in Ghana to use MOOCs to train physician’s assistants. The project is still in its early stages. It involves buying tablets for 30 students studying to be doctor’s aides in rural Ghana and using the tablets to train the students while they help people in their communities. Though it’s not a standard MOOC, according to the University of New Mexico’s Charlotte Gunawardena, it demonstrates the potential of the technology.

6. Georgia Tech offers master's degree through a MOOC

Though MOOCs can broadcast a college’s content, most universities don’t offer accreditation for completing one. So it was big news when Georgia Tech offered a Master's in Computer Science using massively open online course technology. The master's degree cost $6,600, cheap compared to the $44,000 Georgia Tech charges for residential studies, but far more than the $49 Coursera charges for its courses.

MOOC 2.0: Free online education moves forward

Tue, 2014-03-25 10:32

There are some new developments this week in the land of the MOOC. That’s shorthand for the "Massive Open Online Courses" that were supposed to transform higher education as we know it, bringing free education from the likes of Harvard and Stanford to you and me.

MOOC pioneer Coursera has hired a new CEO -- none other than the former long-time president of Yale University, Richard Levin. Meanwhile competitor edX has a new president from the business world, former Vistaprint executive Wendy Cebula. The hires mark a new phase in the evolution of free online education as it tries to move beyond the initial hype--and the inevitable backlash.

Outsourcing the NSA's phone-call database

Tue, 2014-03-25 10:28

The Obama administration has outlined a plan to replace the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone data, the New York Times reports. Instead of maintaining its own five-year record of all phone calls, the NSA would ask a court for individual sets of records, and then get those records from the phone companies. The House Intelligence Committee has a similar recommendation.  

Which raises the question of what new burdens these rules would place on telecom companies.

The short answer:  Not much. Under the proposals we’ve heard about, the telecom companies would be required to keep 18 months of data. Which happens to be what they keep already.

This would be a level of intrusiveness we should all be used to, says James Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"The phone companies collect this information no matter what, right? It’s your phone bill," he says. "And the NSA—or any other federal agency—can always get it with a court order."

As the 2005 revelation of warrantless wiretapping highlighted, phone companies have generally turned over whatever data the government asks for. So they won’t need to set up new systems for responding to NSA requests.

"They already have offices that process these court orders," says Lewis. "So now these offices will have one more request to process."

Volume should be no problem. NSA officials say they searched their own database a total of 288 times in 2012. And looked at fewer than 6,000 phone numbers

Steven Bradbury, who was a justice department lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, would prefer to see the NSA have access to all five years of records.

However, he says asking the phone companies to hang onto it just wasn’t a practical idea.

"They don’t want to do that, they don’t have a need to do that for their own businesses, and they don’t have the capacity to do it," he says. "That would, as a practical matter, result in a contractor keeping the data."

He thinks security could be an issue. Companies like Target have suffered well-publicized data breaches recently.  

And federal IT contracting has gotten a bad rep after the botched rollout of healthcare.gov

However, Bradbury is thinking of another example: "Remember, too, that Edward Snowden was an employee of an outside contractor," he says.  

Does Obama just want to outsource the NSA's phone-call database?

Tue, 2014-03-25 10:28

The Obama administration has outlined a plan to replace the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone data, the New York Times reports. Instead of maintaining its own five-year record of all phone calls, the NSA would ask a court for individual sets of records, and then get those records from the phone companies. The House Intelligence Committee has a similar recommendation.  

Which raises the question of what new burdens these rules would place on telecom companies.

The short answer:  Not much. Under the proposals we’ve heard about, the telecom companies would be required to keep 18 months of data. Which happens to be what they keep already.

This would be a level of intrusiveness we should all be used to, says James Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"The phone companies collect this information no matter what, right? It’s your phone bill," he says. "And the NSA—or any other federal agency—can always get it with a court order."

As the 2005 revelation of warrantless wiretapping highlighted, phone companies have generally turned over whatever data the government asks for. So they won’t need to set up new systems for responding to NSA requests.

"They already have offices that process these court orders," says Lewis. "So now these offices will have one more request to process."

Volume should be no problem. NSA officials say they searched their own database a total of 288 times in 2012. And looked at fewer than 6,000 phone numbers

Steven Bradbury, who was a justice department lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, would prefer to see the NSA have access to all five years of records.

However, he says asking the phone companies to hang onto it just wasn’t a practical idea.

"They don’t want to do that, they don’t have a need to do that for their own businesses, and they don’t have the capacity to do it," he says. "That would, as a practical matter, result in a contractor keeping the data."

He thinks security could be an issue. Companies like Target have suffered well-publicized data breaches recently.  

And federal IT contracting has gotten a bad rep after the botched rollout of healthcare.gov

However, Bradbury is thinking of another example: "Remember, too, that Edward Snowden was an employee of an outside contractor," he says.  

KBBI is Powered by Active Listeners like You

As we celebrate 35 years of broadcasting, we look ahead to technology improvements and the changing landscape of public radio.

Support the voices, music, information, and ideas that add so much to your life. Renew here or visit KBBI by April 21 to enter to win one round-trip airfare with Era between Homer and Anchorage. Thank you for supporting your local public radio station.

ON THE AIR

FOLLOW US

Drupal theme by pixeljets.com ver.1.4