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Updated: 13 min 39 sec ago

A look at ABC's Oscars streaming SNAFU

Mon, 2014-03-03 08:08

Last night, ABC promised to stream the Oscars live online for the first time. But it failed. Overloaded computer networks kept the Oscars largely out of view for more than two hours of the broadcast. For this year, an independent service called Aereo—a competitor the networks would like to kill—won the night, just by being down for less of the time.  

 

[<a href="//storify.com/danweissmann/and-the-award-for-live-streaming-the-oscars-goes-t" target="_blank">View the story "And the award for live-streaming the Oscars goes to... Aereo " on Storify</a>]

PODCAST: Markets react to Ukraine

Mon, 2014-03-03 06:24

Germany's leader is indicating this morning that the crisis in Ukraine can still be resolved by political means. An aide to Angela Merkel today says Germany has proposed to Russia's president sending what's labeled as a "fact-finding mission" to the Crimean peninsula, where Russia's military is now in control without a fight.

Meanwhile, the newly-installed Prime Minister of Ukraine said a military conflict in the country would ruin regional stabilty. He also says the new government has no intention of nationalizing private companies. Nevertheless, the markets are reacting to the tensions with investors moving toward the safe haven of the U.S. Treasury.

Endless snowstorms, freezing cold, and an uncertain economy has car sales skidding off the road in 2014. So carmakers are extending their incentive programs.

Obama's tough sell on early childhood spending

Mon, 2014-03-03 03:17

When President Obama releases his 2015 budget today, he’s expected to include a request for $56 billion in new spending. It’s for something called The Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative which would, among other things, expand preschool and Head Start programs by tying them to increased defense spending. But just yesterday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released a 204-page report criticizing the government’s anti-poverty programs, including Head Start. That could mean a tough sell for additional early childhood spending, even if it’s offset through tax changes and other spending cuts.

Can shipping containers solve London's housing crisis?

Mon, 2014-03-03 03:11

Are shipping containers the future of low-income living? A local YMCA in London is testing the idea.

Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

How much influence does the U.S. have on Russia's economy?

Mon, 2014-03-03 03:02

The Obama administration is threatening Russia with economic sanctions, if it continues with its military action in Ukraine. But Russia’s main exports are oil and gas, and the United States, which imports about $30 billion of goods, or less than 1 percent of the Russian economy, isn’t a big customer.

Much more powerful than sanctions, says Andy Kuchins, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Russia and Eurasia program, is the effect of Russia's actions on its own stock market, which has dropped 10 percent so far. 

Countries that buy Russian exports:

  • Netherlands, 13.0% of Russia's exports
  • Germany, 6.0%
  • France, 3.4%
  • Finland, 3.4%
  • Lithuania, 1.9%
  • Sweden, 1.7%
  • United Kingdom, 2.4%
  • Estonia, 0.43%
  • Norway, 0.41%
  • Latvia, 0.40%
  • Denmark, 0.37%

 Source: The Observatory of Economic Complexity/MIT

The economics of Russia's moves in Ukraine

Mon, 2014-03-03 02:26

Germany's leader is indicating this morning that the crisis in Ukraine can still be resolved by political means. An aide to Angela Merkel today says Germany has proposed to Russia's president sending what's labeled as a "fact-finding mission" to the Crimean peninsula, where Russia's military is now in control without a fight.

Meanwhile, the newly-installed Prime Minister of Ukraine said just now a military conflict in the country would ruin regional stabilty. He also says the new government has no intention of nationalizing private companies. However a key part of that country is now under the authority of the Russian military. The BBC's Christian Fraser is in Sevastopol in southern Ukraine, the Crimean peninsula which juts into the Black Sea, and watched as Russian forces took control without a fight.

Click play on the audio player above to hear the interview.

Here are some more numbers that show part of what's driving Russia's posturing, and what makes the Ukraine such an economically valuable part of the region: 

230 years

The length of time Russia has historically maintained a naval military presence in the Ukranian region of Crimea, with the largest base in the city of Sevastopol. Maintaining the dozen or so bases that give Russia access to the Black and Mediterannean Seas is one of the main motivations for the country's military posturing. In exchange for maintaining the bases, Ukraine recieves a discount on oil and gas imports from Russia. (Washington Post)

1/3

The proportion of the European Union's oil and gas that they import from Russia. About 80 percent of that comes through pipelines in Ukraine. With the E.U. still recovering from its economic crisis, the threat of a cut-off gives Russia leverage. Russia also provides about half of Ukraine's natural gas, and has used cut-offs in the past to exert pressure on its government. The U.S. only gets a little gas and oil from Russia (5 percent), but any disruption as a result of cut-offs or sanctions could still make our fuel prices rise. (NYT and Washington Post)

44.5 million metric tons

The expected output of grain in Ukraine by the end of the 2015 growing season. That's already down about 16 percent from last year. Ukraine has historically been a breadbasket in the region, growing mostly wheat and corn that's then shipped to 37 countries around the world. Grain accounts for 25 percent of the country's exports and five percent of their GDP. (The Telegraph

$16 billion

The amount of national debt Ukraine will have come due before the end of 2015. If the country doesn't get help paying that off, either from Russia or the E.U., they are likely headed for default. After the ouster of key Russian-aligned officials in Ukraine, Moscow froze its $15 billion bailout package and a serious alternative is yet to be put on the table. The International Monetary Fund has provided a glimmer of hope with word of raising funds for Ukraine, but the country needs to reestablish stability before they could get it. (CNN Money)

Cold, snowy winter brings hot deals on cars

Mon, 2014-03-03 01:39

It's been a winter of discounts for the car industry, and it's not over yet – neither the winter, nor the discounts. The major manufacturers have announced they're extending reduced prices through the end of March, hoping to lure reluctant buyers out of the house.

And we all thought the car industry was recovering nicely from the economic downturn.

The last four months of 2013 were strong for car sales, particularly pickups and SUVs. But this year put the brakes on that. So when will business return to normal?

"The weather's going have to get a little warmer, number one," says George Magliano, an economist with IHS Automotive. "This winter's killing me here."

It's not just the endless snowstorms and freezing cold that are pummeling sales in much of the country. Magliano says it's also the uncertain economy. Even the Chevy Silverado, recently named truck of the year, has seen inventory pile up.

But Magliano says manufacturers have no plans to trim production. Instead, they plan to keep the incentives going.

"We've got a house cleaning going on here over the next three to four months," he says.

He adds that these incentives aren't hurting carmakers yet. That's because they have been selling their cars at high prices for the past couple of years. So the industry has a cushion -- for now.

Magliano says when spring finally arrives, automakers will find out if they have a longer-term problem.

Is Puerto Rico the new Greece?

Mon, 2014-03-03 01:21

This month Puerto Rico is set to raise a lot of money. The struggling island nation is selling $3.5 billion worth of bonds.

Puerto Rico has been in a recession for eight years and the bonds would be used to pay the interest on its existing $70 billion of debt.

"It is a ginormous amount of bonds for Puerto Rico," says Marliyn Cohen, president of Envision Capital Management. She says she’s had several clients showing interest in buying these bonds.

But Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate is more than 15 percent, one-third of the population uses food stamps... Why are investors so interested in buying Puerto Rico’s debt when its economy is on such shaky ground?

"A lot of people are interested because interest rates on good quality municipal bonds are so unbelievably low and the interest on general obligation bonds that are issued by Puerto Rico will be so enormously high," explains Cohen.

The reason they’re so high, is that there’s a real risk Puerto Rico might not make the interest payments on that debt. Cohen thinks Puerto Rican bonds have a lot in common with the risky bonds of another island nation: Greece.

Beef Prices, beefed up

Fri, 2014-02-28 20:06

If you’re a steak and potatoes kind of person, you may have been saying, “Holy Cow!” at the supermarket lately. The price of your protein of choice has been rising a lot. Beef prices rose 5 percent in 2013 and they're expected to jump by as much as 15 percent this year.    Trevor Bundy is the protein manager at Fleisher’s Grassfed and Organic Meats butcher shops in New York. Bundy is wearing a chain-mail apron and sharpening his knife, getting ready to butcher a beef chuck, the front quarter of a cow.   "I'm taking it apart into individual cuts," he explains. "This is what we call the Atlantic City strip, this is chuck tender, top blade, shoulder clod, which is a ranch steak."    Cuts from the front of the cow tend to be less expensive, but they’re still not cheap. In fact, these steaks cost more than 10 percent more than they did last year.   "Retail beef prices are at or near record highs," says Ricky Volpe, research economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Really, the story’s pretty simple, and it begins back in 2007, 2008. In both those years, we saw basically every macroeconomic factor that influences food prices start working in the same direction to start driving up food price inflation."    That would be high prices for fuel and feed, especially corn. The cost of raising a cow suddenly got much higher. At the same time, the global recession had people eating less meat, so ranchers cut back their herds.   Since 2011, Volpe says, fuel and feed costs have fallen and demand for beef has jumped as the economy’s improved and consumers have been more willing to spend. Time for ranchers to beef up their herds, right?   Not so fast, says Vople: "Unfortunately, they have continued to experience external shocks, mostly in the form of weather," he says. "That has set them back and raised their own costs and their own risks so high that they haven’t taken the plunge towards expanding."   The result? The number of cows in the hamburger-hungry U.S. is way too low to meet demand says Don Close, a cattle economist with Rabo AgriFinance.   "It’s been pretty dramatic. Total cattle is the lowest we’ve had since 1951 and our cows and heifers inventory is the smallest inventory since 1941. So without a question, we’re working with substantially tighter supplies."    And increasing supplies isn’t easy, says Close. Cows carry their calves for 9 months and steer aren’t usually slaughtered for beef until they’re around 2 years old. So, we probably won’t see a substantial increase in beef supplies for another few years, and prices are likely to stay high.   Cavanaugh says Americans want to buy more beef, but the best cuts have gotten so expensive, it’s pushing consumers to look for alternatives.   "Customers are  looking for something that is delicious, they can feed their family on, but isn’t as expensive as the giant steak they would have bought just a couple of years ago." Cavanaugh says his stores are stocking more ground beef, sausages and other cheaper options.   A lot of people are ditching red meat altogether. Demand for chicken has taken flight in the last year—and now poultry prices are rising, too.

House of Cards is a huge hit in China

Fri, 2014-02-28 17:48
Friday, February 28, 2014 - 11:35 Netflix

A screenshot of Netflix's new design.

The second season of the Netflix series House of Cards was a big success here among American viewers, but it was also a huge hit in China. The popular Chinese video site Sohu bought the rights for the series, and the second season is now the most-watched American television series in China. House of Cards’ first season attracted 34 million views in China by fans intrigued by the dark side of the political process in Washington.

Many Chinese fans compare the show to the hit Chinese series The Legend of Zhen Huan, a story of a concubine living during the Qing dynasty who climbs her way up the court ladder to become Empress. She used the same types of unethical and scandalous tactics that the character of Congressman Frank Underwood does in House of Cards (It was announced last year The Legend of Zhen Huan will be exported to the US and re-cut into six television movies).

Both of these series have been left alone by China’s government censors because they explore the underbelly of the political process in another country or era. You would, of course, never see a television drama about modern current Chinese political figures going about their Machiavellian ways. Because House of Cards is about the U.S. political system, it’s fair game. 

Chinese who watch the show told me it makes them think about the complexities of what a democracy must be like. 

Chen Guanyin, 27, works in advertising. “I have a basic understanding of how the US political system works, but after watching this show, I’m more interested in how the House and Senate work and their roles.”

Shanghai resident Kevin Gao thinks the series exposes a side to the United States often hidden from view. “It reveals a real America: An exceedingly complex democracy haunted by its own demons yet optimistic to a fault,” writes Gao in an email,  “always trying to awaken from nightmares and self-delusion to be its most noble self."

Up to now, it appears the Chinese government has a similar take on the series. It’s allowed the series to remain available online, in its entirety, because it makes the U.S. government look just as corrupt and messy as its own. In essence, the series has become a useful propaganda tool for the Communist Party. And best of all, production costs are zero. 

Marketplace Tech for Friday, February 28, 2014Interview with Rob SchmitzPodcast Title: House of Cards is a huge hit in ChinaStory Type: InterviewSyndication: Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

The costs behind winter blues

Fri, 2014-02-28 17:17
Friday, February 28, 2014 - 17:11 Scott Olson/Getty Images News

Commuters wait on a snow-covered platform for an L train in the Wicker Park neighborhood on February 5, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. 

If you were hoping for a quick end to this brutal winter ... bad news.

Snow and cold from Polar Vortex storms have closed roads, schools and stores. One firm estimates that this winter has cost business about $15 billion.

And there are costs for consumers, too.

Paula Wethington writes for the Monroe News in Michigan, and runs the blog Monroe on a Budget, and says one of the biggest cold costs that add up are kids. “One of the biggest things is just dealing with the number of days that the kids have been home from school, Monroe says. “We would normally have anywhere from 3-4 snow days per school year. One of the school districts in my area has taken 17 days out so far this year. They’re going to have to make it up, but for the immediate impact, now the kids are home all day, you’re lucky if you can get your daycare to be open, you’re paying full-day daycare fees or you’ve got parents who have to take the days off work.”

John Brewer at the Pioneer Press in Saint Paul, Minn., also saw how bad weather can hit finances. “There’s the cost of your soul being crushed. That’s part of it.”

Other than your soul freezing over, being able to get around town can be more expensive in the winter. “Getting your battery replaced in your car is a big [cost], having your driveway plowed. And for the city of St. Paul, in an average year we have four snow emergencies, which is when they clear all the streets of snow. They take two days, it’s really extensive, it costs about $500,000 on average per snow emergency for the city. This year we’ve had eight, and we potentially could have more. And to add to that, if you were unfortunate to leave your car on the street when they declare a snow emergency, you get towed, impounded. That’s gonna cost you $275 to get your car back. So far this year, 542 cars have been towed this year during snow emergencies.”

Our listeners also sent us reports from around the country of how bad weather hits them in the wallet:

@LiveMoney - Potholes a plenty in Michigan! Looking at $230-$250 to fix! pic.twitter.com/3XmqCC33sh

— Andrew K.Johnson (@andrewkjohnson) February 25, 2014

@lizzieohreally @LiveMoney they hit:
my wallet: oil
our employees: inability to work
our cash flow: inability to bill

— Dyami Plotke (@DyamiPlotke) February 25, 2014

Marketplace Money for Friday, February 28, 2014Interview by Lizzie O'LearyPodcast Title: The costs behind winter bluesStory Type: InterviewSyndication: Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Weekly Wrap: Economic blood pressure

Fri, 2014-02-28 16:57
Friday, February 28, 2014 - 18:20 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A doctor reads a blood pressure gauge.

On the last day of February, we're talking about the value of the GDP number. Why do we pay so much attention to it when it is revised so wildly every month?

John Carney of the Wall Street Journal and Leigh Gallagher of Fortune explain:

Carney: "Lots and lots of people throuhgout the government and private enterprise use it while they're planning things... Even though it gets revised and revised, so you use what they've got."

Gallagher: "It's the one number that takes the temperature of everything at once. In theory, everything is baked into this number. In theory this is it."

Carney: "Look, every time you go to the doctor, they take your blood pressure. That doesn't tell you why your blood pressure is high or low, but you still pay attention to the number, and then you get to investigate what happened after that."

Fed Chair Janet Yellen, took a trip to Capitol Hill this week. She testified that things have "softened." Should we be worried?

Carney: "I'm a little worried. Not just by the GDP number."

Gallagher: "I mean, I don't know. The Fed is still not making any changes to its plan to slowly taper here. The one number I worry about the most is probably the jobs number. That has been surprisingly negative the last few months."

The next numbers in question: Housing. For those, we'll have to keep watching.

Gallagher: "They were mixed. Existing sales were a little bit better. One of the most important numbers for the housing market is going to come next month... we have so many young people stuck at home, living with their parents... as they start to move out, that portends well for the housing market."

"If you can't get a job, you can't move into your own apartment." John Carney

Marketplace for Friday, February 28, 2014Interview by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title: Weekly Wrap: Economic blood pressureStory Type: InterviewSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Weekly Wrap: Economic blood pressure

Fri, 2014-02-28 16:20

On the last day of February, we're talking about the value of the GDP number. Why do we pay so much attention to it when it is revised so wildly every month?

John Carney of the Wall Street Journal and Leigh Gallagher of Fortune explain:

Carney: "Lots and lots of people throuhgout the government and private enterprise use it while they're planning things... Even though it gets revised and revised, so you use what they've got."

Gallagher: "It's the one number that takes the temperature of everything at once. In theory, everything is baked into this number. In theory this is it."

Carney: "Look, every time you go to the doctor, they take your blood pressure. That doesn't tell you why your blood pressure is high or low, but you still pay attention to the number, and then you get to investigate what happened after that."

Fed Chair Janet Yellen, took a trip to Capitol Hill this week. She testified that things have "softened." Should we be worried?

Carney: "I'm a little worried. Not just by the GDP number."

Gallagher: "I mean, I don't know. The Fed is still not making any changes to its plan to slowly taper here. The one number I worry about the most is probably the jobs number. That has been surprisingly negative the last few months."

The next numbers in question: Housing. For those, we'll have to keep watching.

Gallagher: "They were mixed. Existing sales were a little bit better. One of the most important numbers for the housing market is going to come next month... we have so many young people stuck at home, living with their parents... as they start to move out, that portends well for the housing market."

"If you can't get a job, you can't move into your own apartment." John Carney

Ukrainian protests follow oligarchs to London

Fri, 2014-02-28 15:48

When you’ve bought an apartment at Number One Hyde Park in central London, and you’ve forked out $225 million for it (the highest price ever for a London pad), you probably don’t expect to find a large group of angry protesters on your doorstep. But that has been the fate of Ukraine’s richest man – Rinat Akhmetov.  

"Because One Hyde Park is an icon of corruption in Ukraine," says Sergiy Burnus, a Ukrainian who lives and works in London. "This is the example of how the poorest country in Europe – Ukraine -- can have the richest oligarch, who buys the most expensive luxury flat in London."  

Akhmetov built his $15 billion fortune out of the scramble for state-owned assets in the 1990s, after the collapse of communism. Like many other oligarchs, he’s been accused of ripping off the country by snapping up its assets at rock bottom prices. But today he faces a more serious charge: that by financing the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, he is implicated in the killing of more than 80 people in last week’s violent clashes in Kiev.

Stepan Shakhno -- another London-based activist -- claims that the oligarch must bear some of blame for the massacre, and must be made to pay: "We want to put pressure on him and let him know that he cannot hide here. And this bloody money that he has stolen from the Ukranian people should be returned back to Ukraine."

A spokesman for Akhmetov rejected the allegations of theft and complicity in the killings, and denied that the businessman is in London at the moment. Akhmetov isn’t the only Ukranian oligarch with a foothold in the U.K. who is attracting the adverse attention of protestors. A gas tycoon – Dmitry Firtash – who has also been accused of plundering Ukraine and financing repression – has been targeted too. Demonstraters staged a protest outside the London Stock Exchange complaining that the Exchange had allowed Firtash to formally open a trading session. British born Ukrainian Crystyna Chimera –who took part in that protest - is angry with the British authorities for rolling out the red carpet for the oligarchs.

"It makes my blood boil that whilst people are dying on the streets of Kiev, the oligarchs are allowed to live in London, to live luxury lives with the most expensive flats. I think it’s time for government institutions to take a look at themselves, and ask themselves whether they have Ukrainian blood on their hands," Chimera says.

The activists want the British government to withdraw the oligarchs’ visas. But that seems unlikely to happen. The U.K. bends over backwards to attract rich foreigners, and over the past 5 years, 850 Russian oligarchs and Chinese multimillionaires have been given the right to live in Britain.

Nick Redman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies points out that enquiring into whether the oligarchs’ wealth is ill-gotten or not wouldn’t be easy. And he argues that the oligarchs are not that different from America’s Robber Barons. 

"If you look back into some of the big fortunes of the U.S. capitalists’ in the 19th century, those people then went on to endow museums and other things, and in a way that’s what Mr Akhmetov and Mr. Firtash are doing now," says Redman. The oligarchs have been recasting themselves as philanthropists. Late last year, Firtash paid for a Festival of Ukrainian music, art , literature and food in London. But – after the bloodshed in Kiev - laundering the image of the oligarchs may be impossible. 

The costs behind winter blues

Fri, 2014-02-28 15:11

If you were hoping for a quick end to this brutal winter ... bad news.

Snow and cold from Polar Vortex storms have closed roads, schools and stores. One firm estimates that this winter has cost business about $15 billion.

And there are costs for consumers, too.

Paula Wethington writes for the Monroe News in Michigan, and runs the blog Monroe on a Budget, and says one of the biggest cold costs that add up are kids. “One of the biggest things is just dealing with the number of days that the kids have been home from school, Monroe says. “We would normally have anywhere from 3-4 snow days per school year. One of the school districts in my area has taken 17 days out so far this year. They’re going to have to make it up, but for the immediate impact, now the kids are home all day, you’re lucky if you can get your daycare to be open, you’re paying full-day daycare fees or you’ve got parents who have to take the days off work.”

John Brewer at the Pioneer Press in Saint Paul, Minn., also saw how bad weather can hit finances. “There’s the cost of your soul being crushed. That’s part of it.”

Other than your soul freezing over, being able to get around town can be more expensive in the winter. “Getting your battery replaced in your car is a big [cost], having your driveway plowed. And for the city of St. Paul, in an average year we have four snow emergencies, which is when they clear all the streets of snow. They take two days, it’s really extensive, it costs about $500,000 on average per snow emergency for the city. This year we’ve had eight, and we potentially could have more. And to add to that, if you were unfortunate to leave your car on the street when they declare a snow emergency, you get towed, impounded. That’s gonna cost you $275 to get your car back. So far this year, 542 cars have been towed this year during snow emergencies.”

Our listeners also sent us reports from around the country of how bad weather hits them in the wallet:

@LiveMoney - Potholes a plenty in Michigan! Looking at $230-$250 to fix! pic.twitter.com/3XmqCC33sh

— Andrew K.Johnson (@andrewkjohnson) February 25, 2014

@lizzieohreally @LiveMoney they hit:
my wallet: oil
our employees: inability to work
our cash flow: inability to bill

— Dyami Plotke (@DyamiPlotke) February 25, 2014

California rules cell phone maps OK while driving

Fri, 2014-02-28 15:10
Friday, February 28, 2014 - 16:44 John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images It's actually raining in Los Angeles and much of California, so the traffic here in LA has been horrendous.    77 accidents just in the morning commute, and it's entirely possible it's going to get worse for reasons not weather related. A state court has ruled it's okay -- completely legal -- to check maps on your phone while you're driving. You can't talk unless it's hands free, and you can't text. But you can check your maps.   What could possibly go wrong? Marketplace for Friday, February 28, 2014by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title: California rules cell phone maps OK while drivingStory Type: BlogSyndication: PMPApp Respond: No

It's March. Do you know how much coffee you're drinking?

Fri, 2014-02-28 14:54
Friday, February 28, 2014 - 14:25 Stacey Vanek Smith

In the last 3 years coffee prices have gone from near-historic highs in 2011 to near historic lows today.

From the Marketplace Datebook, here’s an extended look at what’s coming up at the top of March:

  • Tomorrow is a great day to go barhopping if you're in Reykjavik. Iceland celebrates Beer Day, an annual event since 1989 when a 74-year long prohibition of beer was lifted.
  • Nebraska, where Kool-Aid was invented, became the 37th state on March 1, 1867.
  • The Hollywood red carpet becomes the center of attention on Oscar Sunday.
  • We kick off the work-week with January personal income and spending data from the Commerce Department.
  • Inventor Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847. He patented the telephone. It’s that device you’re texting on.
  • Tuesday is National Grammar Day. Other celebrations include Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday. The day to live it up before the beginning of Lent.
  • On Wednesday, Lent begins.
  • Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan turns 88 on Thursday.
  • And on Friday the Labor Department releases its jobs report for February.
  • I hate to be the one to break it to you. March is National Caffeine Awareness Month.

You can live the Datebook lifestyle at marketplace.org/Datebook.

Marketplace for Friday, February 28, 2014by Michelle PhilippePodcast Title: It's March. Do you know how much coffee you're drinking?Story Type: BlogSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

California rules cell phone maps OK while driving

Fri, 2014-02-28 14:44

It's actually raining in Los Angeles and much of California, so the traffic here in LA has been horrendous.    77 accidents just in the morning commute, and it's entirely possible it's going to get worse for reasons not weather related. A state court has ruled it's okay -- completely legal -- to check maps on your phone while you're driving. You can't talk unless it's hands free, and you can't text. But you can check your maps.   What could possibly go wrong?

Oscar Micheaux: First to put black films on the silver screen

Fri, 2014-02-28 14:41
Friday, February 28, 2014 - 16:34 Wikimedia Commons

Oscar Micheaux made more than 44 films in the early part of the twentieth century about the black experience in America. Rhea Combs, curator of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, says Micheaux's was "revolutionary."

"He was able to create films that really showed African Americans on screen, that allowed a unique opportunity if you will, for African Americans to be projected and to be showcased."

Not only were Micheaux's films game changing, but so was the production production process. He employed all black actors and actress, support, and production staff. Combs said Micheaux created a black-star system similar to the Hollywood star system, which took young, unknown, yet promising talent, and made superstars out of them. It was Micheaux's system that first put actor Paul Robeson on the screen in the 1925 silent film "Body and Soul."  

Most of the time, Micheaux was working within a tight budget. Combs says his casting, coupled with his creative financing and shrewd business acumen, made his productivity remarkable. 

Micheaux was not without his critics. While they applauded the fact that he was able to get black films made and African Americans on the big screen, many said his work wasn't that good.

"Scholars argue that [Micheaux's work] was a bit uneven," Combs said. "But keep in mind the fact that he was really about sort of churning out these images and if it worked, cool. If it didn't let's move on to the next. At one point he was striving to do four films a year. That's pretty incredible," said Combs.

Combs said Oscar Micheaux's legacy was undeniable.

"Oscar Micheaux was definitely there fighting to promote and further African Americans in the Hollywood system," she said.

 

Marketplace for Friday, February 28, 2014 Interview by Kai Ryssdal and Millie JeffersonPodcast Title: Oscar Micheaux: First to put black films on the silver screenStory Type: InterviewSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Oscar Micheaux: First to put black films on the silver screen

Fri, 2014-02-28 14:34

Oscar Micheaux made more than 44 films in the early part of the twentieth century about the black experience in America. Rhea Combs, curator of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, says Micheaux's was "revolutionary."

"He was able to create films that really showed African Americans on screen, that allowed a unique opportunity if you will, for African Americans to be projected and to be showcased."

Not only were Micheaux's films game changing, but so was the production production process. He employed all black actors and actress, support, and production staff. Combs said Micheaux created a black-star system similar to the Hollywood star system, which took young, unknown, yet promising talent, and made superstars out of them. It was Micheaux's system that first put actor Paul Robeson on the screen in the 1925 silent film "Body and Soul."  

Most of the time, Micheaux was working within a tight budget. Combs says his casting, coupled with his creative financing and shrewd business acumen, made his productivity remarkable. 

Micheaux was not without his critics. While they applauded the fact that he was able to get black films made and African Americans on the big screen, many said his work wasn't that good.

"Scholars argue that [Micheaux's work] was a bit uneven," Combs said. "But keep in mind the fact that he was really about sort of churning out these images and if it worked, cool. If it didn't let's move on to the next. At one point he was striving to do four films a year. That's pretty incredible," said Combs.

Combs said Oscar Micheaux's legacy was undeniable.

"Oscar Micheaux was definitely there fighting to promote and further African Americans in the Hollywood system," she said.

 

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