Marketplace - American Public Media

PODCAST: Disappearing grocery stores

Fri, 2015-05-22 03:01

The guessing game over when interest rates will go up ... continues. More on that. Plus, we all know what a 'leap year' is, but what about a 'leap second'? On June 30th, an extra second will be added to the world's clocks to make up for the discord between the earth's rotation and the clocks we humans use. And while it may not seem like much, it's a big deal to the world's markets. Plus, residents in the struggling city of Flint, Michigan, have seen their share of hardship over the years. In addition to a catastrophic loss of manufacturing jobs and subsequent blight, the city is losing its grocery stores, making life even more difficult for its poorest residents.

Grocery exodus has Flint shopping for answers

Fri, 2015-05-22 02:00

Residents in the struggling town of Flint, Michigan, have seen their share of hardship over the years.

In addition the catastrophic loss of manufacturing jobs and subsequent blight, the city is also struggling to provide groceries to its poorest residents.

Jason Lorenz, a public information officer at Flint City Hall, has a wall map showing the city boundaries. One thing that’s rapidly disappearing from the map are grocery stores.

“Yeah, we had a Kroger that closed, we have a Meijer up on the northwest side of town. Either side of M-21 here were two VG’s. They both closed,” Lorenz says.

Over the past eight months, Flint has seen three groceries close, most recently the Kroger on Davison Road. That means that a city of 100,000 people now has only one major grocery within city limits.

“Flint was a very tough decision for us,” says Kroger spokesman Brandon Barrow. This latest store closure, he says, was simply unavoidable.

Kroger closed the Davison Road location only two weeks after making the announcement. Barrow says the business was simply unsustainable.

“Over the course of nine years, we lost just over $3 million at that particular location.”

According the U.S. Census, more than 40 percent of Flint’s residents live below the poverty line. Many don’t have cars, meaning they are increasingly cut off from fresh groceries.

Bettie Cavendish is disabled and can’t drive. When the Eastside Kroger closed, she started taking the bus to a Walmart located outside the city. 

“It’s a four to-six hour trip, generally, for me,” Cavendish says. “I [also] have to walk a half hour to get to the bus stop, because it doesn't go down the road I'm on. “

And after she’s done all of her shopping, Cavendish says she has to carry all her groceries back home. It’s one of the hardest parts of her week.

"I guess people would think it would be easier because you have the time when you're disabled. But it's a lot harder. They don't make it easier on you at all."

The bus that Cavendish takes is a special grocery route that Flint created as a 90-day test. If the ridership is there, the line may become permanent, says Ed Benning, general manager of Flint’s bus system, the MTA.

Flint MTA opened a special ''Ride to Groceries'' route for 90 days

Adam Allington

I think the ridership will be there, because the need is not going to go away,” Benning says. 

The grocery bus helps, but it only runs weekday hours from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., leaving some working people without the chance to shop during the week.

Grocery store exodus has Flint searching for answers

Fri, 2015-05-22 02:00

Residents in the struggling town of Flint, Michigan have seen their share of hardship over the years.

In addition the catastrophic loss of manufacturing jobs and subsequent blight, the city is also struggling to provide groceries to its poorest residents.

Jason Lorenz is a public information officer at Flint City Hall. On his wall is a map showing the city boundaries. One thing that’s rapidly disappearing from the map are grocery stores.

“Yeah, we had a Kroger that closed, we have a Meijer up on the northwest side of town. Either side of M-21here were two VG’s, they both closed,” Lorenz said.

Over the past eight months, Flint has seen three groceries close. Most recently the Kroger on Davison Road, meaning that a city of 100,000 people now has only one major grocery within city limits.

“Flint was a very tough decision for us,” said Kroger spokesman Brandon Barrow.

This latest store closure, he says, was simply unavoidable.

Kroger closed the Davison Road location only two weeks after making the announcement. Barrow said the business was simply unsustainable.

“Over the course of nine years we lost just over $3 million at that particular location.”

According the U.S. Census, over 40 percent of Flint’s residents live below the poverty line. Many don’t have cars, meaning they are increasingly cut off from fresh groceries.

Bettie Cavendish is disabled and can’t drive. When the Eastside Kroger closed she started taking the bus to a Walmart located outside the city. 

“It’s a 4-6 hour trip, generally for me,” Cavendish said. “I [also] have to walk a half hour to get to the bus stop because it doesn't go down the road I'm on. “

And after she’s done all of her shopping, Cavendish says has to carry all her groceries back home. It’s one of the hardest parts of her week.

"I guess people would think it would be easier because you have the time, when you're disabled.  But it's a lot harder, they don't make it easier on you at all."

Ed Benning is the general manager of Flint’s bus system, the MTA. The bus that Cavendish takes is a special grocery route that Flint created as a test for 90 days. If the ridership is there Benning says the line may become permanent.

Flint MTA opened a special \"Ride to Groceries\" route for 90 days

Adam Allington

I think the ridership will be there, because the need is not going to go away,” Benning said. The grocery bus helps, but even that only runs weekday hours from 9:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.

So, if you do have a job, you likely still won’t have the chance to do your shopping during the week.

Insuring governments against disease outbreaks

Fri, 2015-05-22 02:00

In the wake of the Ebola outbreak in Africa, a new plan has emerged to guard against future risk: insurance for disease outbreaks. The idea is to help protect governments and industry against the costs of pandemics. A San Francisco firm announced $30 million in funding for the idea this week.

Today, nobody can buy an insurance policy that protects them from a pandemic. But by 2017, at least one company promises to have a product on the market. Dr. Richard Wilcox runs the African Risk Capacity (ARC), a company that sells insurance to African countries and is owned by the governmental body the African Union. He says when Ebola hit, countries lacked money for the basics, like public health workers and the ability to quarantine. So Wilcox says they waited, as governments around the globe and philanthropists passed the hat.

“The cost of having to wait for funds to be mobilized abroad is so expensive to their economy, to their vulnerable populations that they protect,” he says.

If a country takes out a policy, it will be able to get cash quickly to support efforts to control outbreaks. Wilcox estimates costs can run into the tens of millions for even cases numbering in the single digits. Aon insurance consultant Dr. Gisele Norris says Ebola has gotten governments, insurers and companies thinking about pandemics in a whole new way.

“Ebola was so instructive in that was a completely unforeseen event. And no one was prepared,” she says. “I think maybe what it brought home was there is a whole world of emerging and re-emerging infectious disease out there.”

The point, says Norris, is that we don’t know what’s going to strike next time, but there will be a next time. With that new thought in mind, she says certain industries like healthcare, aviation, hospitality and higher education are at higher risk and may look for ways to limit their financial exposure. Of course, price will determine the size of any future market. 

In Africa, ARC will sell policies that encourages public health investment. Simply, the more prepared for an epidemic, the lower its premiums—perhaps a model for industry as well.

 

 

 

 

The 'leap second' — another Y2K moment?

Fri, 2015-05-22 02:00

On June 30, at midnight Greenwich Mean Time/Coordinated Universal Time, an extra second will be added to the world’s master clocks so that they sync up with the earth’s rotation, which does not precisely match the clocks and computers we earthlings use.

Financial exchanges and firms that depend on precise pricing and transaction data are planning for this so-called "leap second" down the micro-second.

“It’s a big issue for financial firms,” says Victor Yodaiken, whose software firm, FSMLabs, provides time-synchronization computer applications to those firms. “A whole second is a long time. Software is really not set up to see time go backwards.”

U.S.-based exchanges have a deadline of Friday to submit their plans for dealing with the leap second to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Yodaiken says high-frequency traders are particularly sensitive to the problem because of their automated algorithms.

Meanwhile, U.S. exchanges and those in Asia (Japan, Australia, Singapore and South Korea) will adjust to the extra second by spreading it out over a longer period or adding it later in the day. “During the trading day, their clocks will be different,” says programmer-analyst Steve Allen at the University of California’s Lick Observatory. He is dealing with an automated telescope that will have to adjust to the leap second. “There will be moments during that day when transactions from one market to another seem to come from the future.”

Some U.S. exchanges will pause around the leap second as a precaution or will halt after-hours trading beforehand.

Another Y2K moment? The 'leap second.'

Fri, 2015-05-22 02:00

On June 30, 2015, at midnight Greenwich Mean Time/Coordinated Universal Time, an extra second will be added to the world’s master clocks. That’s to sync up with the earth’s rotation, which does not precisely match the clocks and computers we earthlings use.

This so-called ‘leap second’ is being planned for by financial exchanges and firms that depend on precise pricing and transaction data, down the micro-second.

“It’s a big issue for financial firms,” says Victor Yodaiken, whose software firm, FSMLabs, provides time-synchronization computer applications to those firms. “A whole second is a long time. Software is really not set up to see time go backwards.”

U.S.-based exchanges have a deadline of Friday, May 22, to submit their plans for dealing with the leap second to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Yodaiken says high-frequency traders are particularly sensitive to the problem because of their automated algorithms.

Meanwhile, U.S. exchanges and those in Asia (Japan, Australia, Singapore and South Korea) will adjust to the extra second differently—spreading it out over a longer period, or adding it later in the day. “During the trading day, their clocks will be different,” says programmer-analyst Steve Allen at the University of California’s Lick Observatory. He is dealing with an automated telescope that will have to adjust to the leap second. “There will be moments during that day when transactions from one market to another seem to come from the future.”

Some U.S. exchanges will pause around the leap second as a precaution, or will halt after-hours trading beforehand.

Baltimore's $100 million investment legacy

Fri, 2015-05-22 02:00

Phyllis Young has a full life: three children, five grandchildren, a mortgage and a job she loves. Eleven years ago, Young, a geriatric nurse's assistant, was making $8 an hour and hoping to boost her wages to $12. She hit a stroke of luck.

Baltimore, in 1994, won a federal contest aimed at alleviating poverty in urban cores. Six cities were given a federal grant of $100 million each as well as a package of tax breaks for businesses and employers. The money and tax credits were intended to revitalize each city's poorest neighborhoods, which were called Empowerment Zones.

Each of the winning cities was given some leeway to do what it wanted with the money. Baltimore city leaders decided to focus on job creation and training. One of the training programs was a certification course for nursing assistants run through Sojourner-Douglass College. Participants, including Young, had their tuition paid and were given a $600 monthly grant.

Today, Young looks back on her graduation from the program with pride. The Empowerment Zone effort, she says, got her closer to the middle-class lifestyle she'd always wanted. But despite her successes, she faces the same challenges as many people in today's economy: her nursing job, which pays $17 an hour, is only part time. She also has a full-time job, where she makes less. She says her bills have gone up, but her wages haven't kept pace.

With federal eyes fixed on Baltimore following the eruption of violent protests that drew attention to that city's high levels of poverty and unemployment, Young suggests that maybe it's time for another round of Empowerment Zones.

 

The impact of Baltimore's $100 million investment

Fri, 2015-05-22 02:00

Phyllis Young has a full life: three children, five grandchildren, a mortgage, and a job she loves. 11 years ago, Young, a geriatric nurse's assistant, was making $8 an hour and hoping to boost her wages to $12. She hit a stroke of luck.

Baltimore, in 1994, won a federal contest aimed at alleviating poverty in urban cores. Six cities were given a federal grant of $100 million each as well as a package of tax breaks for businesses and employers. The money and tax credits were intended to revitalize each city's poorest neighborhoods, which were called Empowerment Zones.

Each of the winning cities was given some leeway to do what it wanted with the money. Baltimore city leaders decided to focus on job creation and job training. One of the training programs was a certification course for nursing assistants run through Sojourner Douglass College. Participants, including Young, had their tuition paid and were given a $600 monthly grant.

Today, Young looks back on her graduation from the program with pride. The Empowerment Zone effort, she says, got her closer to the middle-class lifestyle she'd always wanted. But despite her successes, she faces the same challenges as many people in today's economy. Her nursing job, which pays $17 an hour, is only part time. She works another full-time job, where she makes less. She says her bills have gone up, but her wages haven't kept pace.

With federal eyes fixed on Baltimore following the eruption of violent protests that drew attention to that city's high levels of poverty and unemployment, Young suggests that maybe it's time for another round of Empowerment Zones.

 

We're getting double the unicorns this year

Fri, 2015-05-22 01:59
$6 billion

That was Square's valuation after a round of fundraising last fall. CEO Jack Dorsey started the payment venture with another multi-billion-dollar company under his belt: a little micro-blogging service called Twitter. We chatted with Dorsey about what he's learned since starting Twitter at 29, how Square came together and much more. Listen to the extended interview here.

29

Speaking of billion-dollar-start-ups, that's how many so-called "unicorns" have sprung up so far this year. Venture capital analyst CB Insights predicts we'll see another 47 before the end of the year, which puts 2015 on track to double the number of companies that raised $1 billion in 2014.

9 percent

That's Adidas' share of the athletic shoe market, and it's shrinking. Nike, on the other hand, has about half. The former got a big boost when it signed musician Kanye West away from Nike, and West's "Yeezy Season 1" line debuted in February to much fanfare. But fashion and lifestyle are a much smaller part of the Adidas Group, which is still behind in sports. This puts the company at a crossroads, Fortune reported.

1

That's how many grocery stores are left in the city limits of Flint, Michigan, which has a population of 100,000 people. Three grocery stores in Flint have closed just within the last eight months. And with many residents without cars, access to fresh groceries has become even more difficult.

22 million

That's how many people take cruises every year. The more than 300 ocean liners that make port in the U.S. come with a host of unique hazards and regulations borne from essentially being floating cities. ProPublica has put together a comprehensive guide to cruise safety, running down just about everything that can go wrong (and how often it does) as well as searchable safety records for hundreds of vessels.

1 second

That's the amount of time that will be added on June 30th to the world's clocks. Meant to correct the discord between the earth's rotation and the clocks we humans use, that extra second is also a headache for world markets. May 22 is the deadline for U.S.-based markets to turn in a plan of action to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. One of the biggest hurdles is that different markets are adding the second in different ways: some all at once, some spread out over a period of time.

100 years

As part of the Future Library Project, Margaret Atwood will place a newly written book in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years. The closest any of us will come to knowing what's inside that book (aside from cryogenically freezing ourselves) will be a live periscope viewing of the event that will take place next week. 

Correction: A previous version of this post misstated the rate grocery stores have been closing in Flint, Michigan. The city lost three stores in the past eight months. The text has been corrected.

Silicon Tally: Hashtag POTUS

Fri, 2015-05-22 01:59

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news? 

This week, we're joined by Dan Lyons, a tech journalist and writer for season 2 of HBO’s Silicon Valley.

Click the media player above to hear host Ben Johnson take on Dan Lyons for this week's Silicon Tally.

Exclusivity in the changing medical landscape

Thu, 2015-05-21 14:09

Health care is expanding to include services that are accessible and exclusive to the extreme — like telemedicine and concierge doctors, respectively.

As more insurance groups begin to cover telehealth, and a growing number of services use mobile and digital avenues, access to a doctor is becoming easier. But when it comes to actually getting into the doctors office, it can seem as if there are too many people and too few doctors. Maybe because there are.

While medical schools have increased enrollment to account for the shortage, a 1997 cap on federal funding for teaching hospitals limits the number of residencies. 

For those willing to pay a fee ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, the small but growing number of concierge doctors will see you whenever you want.

So with health care dividing into inclusive and exclusive methods of care, what does the future hold? Dr. Molly Coye, chief innovation officer at UCLA Health, joined Marketplace Weekend to talk about the changes to accessibility and exclusivity in health care.

Tune in to the interview using the audio player above. 

Making credit more accessible — and less exclusive

Thu, 2015-05-21 13:42

Many of us carry little membership cards in our wallets every day — credit cards.

They give us access to money that we may not have and let us pay for things when we're not carrying cash. Our credit scores give us access to loans, mortgages, jobs, and, sometimes, more credit cards.

Understanding credit can be difficult: what exactly goes into a credit score? Michelle Singletary, who writes the nationally syndicated Washington Post personal finance column "The Color of Money," says that building and maintaining a high credit score can be simple. "People think that there are so many tricks to getting a good credit score," she says, "but the number one way to get a good credit score is to pay your bills on time."

For those who are new to credit, using a low-tier card with fees and working up to a more serious card is a good option. And for those who want a credit score without a credit card, paying off student loans, a mortgage, or a car loan can help establish a credit score. 

Credit scores, like the FICO score, were designed to make credit and money more accessible with more objective criteria. Singletary says that in the past, lenders would call the merchants you did business with and just ask about your credibility. "It was much more subjective," she says, because merchants could bring in your personal history, or their own biases. 

While a numeric, measurable score makes things simpler, it can still be discriminatory, especially against people who rent instead of own a home. Singletary says that this can especially skew against people of color, who rent in higher numbers. "If you're a renter, your on-time rental payments aren't considered in the traditional FICO score," Singletary says, "and so that could eliminate some good history for a great number of people, oftentimes minorities."

The good news for everyone is that credit and credit scores are changing. Medical debt, which has in the past carried significant weight in a credit score, is becoming less important in the new FICO score. Singletary says that hopefully, rental payments could also be included in different types of scores. 

While credit scores aren't being used less, they are expanding and becoming more inclusive. Singletary encourages people who are working to establish or rebuild a credit score to do it themselves using MyFICO or tips from the Federal Trade Commission

To learn more about establishing, rebuilding and maintaining credit, tune in to the full interview using the player above. 

 

Hillary Clinton's new LinkedIn résumé

Thu, 2015-05-21 13:00

Hillary Clinton is not the first person to get on LinkedIn — about 115 million Americans joined before her.  Nor is she the first 2016 contender. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and others already have profiles there.

"The difference between Hillary Clinton and every single other candidate running, including Jeb Bush, is she has universal recognition already," says Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. 

This argument is similar to the one being made by her campaign. They say everyone knows her name, but few know the real Hillary.

"When you actually talk to people, they don't know that her dad was a small business owner, they don't know that she had a middle class upbringing," says Teddy Goff, a digital strategist with the Clinton campaign.

"There’s nothing quite like social media to give people a direct touch point into the campaign and into the real human being who is the candidate," he says.

And why LinkedIn? Well, it's about connecting to people where they are, says Geoffrey James, a blogger and author of "Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know."

"It has become now the primary way that companies search for candidates, and the primary way where candidates represent themselves," James says, "It’s replaced the resume."

One thing not on Clinton's resume: her 2007-2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. 

Clinton's not the only politician to set up a LinkedIn profile. President Obama, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and once-presidential-hopeful Mitt Romney are all members of the platform. How have they used LinkedIn?

President Obama

President Obama joined the social networking site in 2007 during his first run for president — and has since accumulated almost two million followers. Aside from your standard resume details, the Obama team used LinkedIn during and after his 2012 run to post about his policy platforms.

In October 2012, when running against Romney in the 2012 presidential election, Obama tried to appeal to middle-class voters. Here’s an excerpt from, “A critical choice for the middle class”: 

President Obama knows we can only grow our economy from the middle out, not the top down. That's why he's fighting to make sure our tax system is fair for all Americans—while Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would raise taxes on the middle class to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires.

Mitt Romney 

Romney hasn’t updated his resume since 2012, but he also used LinkedIn during the 2012 election to outline his plan for the middle class.  

Here’s an excerpt from his “5 Point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class” post: 

The past three and a half years have been the hardest on the middle class since the Great Depression. Too many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to find work. This election is about giving middle-class Americans a fair shot. On Day One, I will begin turning this economy around with a plan for a stronger middle class.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Cameron has posted extensively about the UK’s relationship with the U.S. and other foreign countries. He also likes to dabble in economic growth and tech innovation.

Here’s an excerpt from one of his posts, ““UK and USA - working together for economic prosperity”:  

We must do all we can to bolster our economies against another global economic downturn. So we’re working to help families stake their claim to a better future and buy their first home. We’re supporting small businesses, expanding apprenticeships, improving education for all, and backing increases in the minimum wage.

Hillary's new LinkedIn résumé

Thu, 2015-05-21 13:00

Hillary Clinton is not the first person to get on LinkedIn — about 115 million Americans joined before her.  Nor is she the first 2016 contender. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and others already have profiles there.

"The difference between Hillary Clinton and every single other candidate running, including Jeb Bush, is she has universal recognition already," says Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. 

This argument is similar to the one being made by her campaign. They say everyone knows her name, but few know the real Hillary.

"When you actually talk to people, they don't know that her dad was a small business owner, they don't know that she had a middle class upbringing," says Teddy Goff, a digital strategist with the Clinton campaign.

"There’s nothing quite like social media to give people a direct touch point into the campaign and into the real human being who is the candidate," he says.

And why LinkedIn? Well, it's about connecting to people where they are, says Geoffrey James, a blogger and author of Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

"It has become now the primary way that companies search for candidates, and the primary way where candidates represent themselves," James says, "It’s replaced the resume."

One thing not on Clinton's resume: her 2007-2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. 

Several other politicians aside from Clinton have set up LinkedIn profiles, like President Obama, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and once-presidential-hopeful Mitt Romney.

How have they used the platform?

President Obama

President Obama joined the social networking site in 2007 during his first run for president — and has since accumulated almost 2 million followers. Aside from your standard resume details, the Obama team used LinkedIn during and after his 2012 run to post about his platforms.

In October 2012, when running against Romney in the 2012 presidential election, Obama tried to appeal to middle-class voters. Here’s an excerpt from, “A critical choice for the middle class”: 

President Obama knows we can only grow our economy from the middle out, not the top down. That's why he's fighting to make sure our tax system is fair for all Americans—while Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would raise taxes on the middle class to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires.

Mitt Romney 

Romney hasn’t updated his resume since 2012, but he also used LinkedIn during the 2012 election to outline his plan for the middle class.  

Here’s an excerpt from his “5 Point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class” post: 

The past three and a half years have been the hardest on the middle class since the Great Depression. Too many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to find work. This election is about giving middle-class Americans a fair shot. On Day One, I will begin turning this economy around with a plan for a stronger middle class.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Cameron has posted extensively about the UK’s relationship with the U.S. and other foreign countries. He also likes to dabble in economic growth and tech innovation.

Here’s an excerpt from one of his posts, ““UK and USA - working together for economic prosperity” 

We must do all we can to bolster our economies against another global economic downturn. So we’re working to help families stake their claim to a better future and buy their first home. We’re supporting small businesses, expanding apprenticeships, improving education for all, and backing increases in the minimum wage.

Cars: hardware or software?

Thu, 2015-05-21 13:00

Modern technology and the law are running smack into each other at highway speeds.

At a recent copyright hearing, a lawyer for General Motors said that even after you pay off your car — even after you own every last nut, bolt, creak and rattle — GM still owns the software that basically makes modern day cars go.

What, then, are you doing when you buy a car? You're licensing the software.

Should only farmers be allowed to sell in farmers markets?

Thu, 2015-05-21 13:00

The number of farmers markets has more than quadrupled over the last 20 years, according to the USDA. The trouble has become defining what a farmers market is.

One of the country’s larger markets is going through a painful process of purging vendors who don’t meet a new “producer-only” standard.

“There’s nothing here. There’s no farmers,” retiree Walter Gentry says with a laugh, which echoes through the empty sheds of the Nashville Farmers’ Market. “I thought I could get some peaches here.”

Not long ago, you could get a peach in May or just about any time of year. Not any more.

“It’s not peach season. And as much as I’d love to have a peach right now, they’re not ready,” says market director Tasha Kennard.

There’s not much of anything ready at the moment. That’s a reflection of Tennessee’s moderate growing season.

Kennard knew there would be some lean times when the city-owned facility instituted a controversial “producer-only” policy this year. It requires vendors to be the ones who grew or made the product being sold.

Previously, Kennard says vendors who resold the same fruits and vegetables that appear in the supermarket dominated the produce sheds.

“I think that there are a lot of people that...make assumptions that because they’re at a farmers’ market, everything is either locally or regionally grown and that the person they’re buying it from is the farmer, but that hasn’t been the case at this market for a very long time. It’s been a mix.”

Recently, fewer full-time farmers were showing up. Kennard says they were put at a disadvantage. Customers flocked to the tables that had an abundance of colorful produce, even pineapples and avocadoes, which couldn’t possibly be local or even regional. Ann Hardy ran one of those tables for nearly 50 years. She has a small farm, but most of her produce came from wholesalers.

“We’re not able to grow everything we sell and meet the demands of the people we serve,” Hardy says.

Under the new restrictions Hardy hasn’t found a way to reopen her stall. This tension between supply and demand exists at many markets. While some of the nation’s largest have similar restrictions, many take an anything-goes approach.

“Some markets, their main purpose is to provide fresh food and so the producer-only aspect of it may be less important,” says Jen Cheek, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition — a national trade group.

But the mission for many is to give local agriculture a way to connect with customers, and vice versa. It’s a pretty popular concept at the moment. So Cheek says a market has to be careful not to let its brand be “co-opted.”

“Maintaining that trust between farmers and customers is going to be what makes farmers markets stand out, even as other people are using the name.”

For Nashville area farmer Mike Baudinot, the new rules feel like a throwback to when his great grandfather started farming in the 1800s. 

“You didn’t have watermelons in March and April. You didn’t have apples all year round. It was what the farmers raised. That’s what was in season.”

Baudinot is one of the few farmers already selling at the Nashville market. He’s got new hoops to jump through now, like proving he actually grows what he sells. But he’s ok with that, and he figures customers will be too.

“People don’t realize when their stuff is fresh, local, it’s a whole lot different than getting it from California or even Florida.”

The hopes at this market are that customers will accept sweeter strawberries and juicier tomatoes, even if that means they’ll only be available a few weeks a year.

The Santa Barbara oil spill that changed history

Thu, 2015-05-21 13:00

California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency over a coastal oil spill, which dumped as much as 20,000 gallons into the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara on Tuesday. This is not the first spill in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara was the site of the world’s first offshore oil drilling back in 1896. In 1969, it was also the site of our nation’s biggest oil spill, up to that point, when some three million gallons spewed from an offshore rig.

"I think it was seared in the memories of all of us who grew up here in southern California, and I think it was seared in the consciousness of most Americans," says Zed Yaroslavsky, a former Los Angeles County supervisor.

Given the value of the Channel Islands and the Santa Barbara coast as an environmental and economic resource, drilling for oil there didn’t make sense in 1969, he says, and it doesn’t today.

“You can get oil in a lot of places. You cannot get more beaches, you cannot get more marine life.”

The 1969 spill, along with the burning of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, seeded the modern environmental movement, and the creation of groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council a year later in 1970.

Joel Reynolds is the Western Director of the NRDC.

“It led to the drafting and enactment of a whole series of federal environmental laws that today we take for granted,” Reynolds says. “Things like the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, The Coastal Zone Management Act and on and on and on."

Reynolds says it’s unfortunate that lessons of the first spill still haven’t been learned.

"My reaction, my immediate reaction was—not again!"

This week’s spill is much smaller than the one in 1969, which itself was smaller than the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico five years ago.

But more drilling is on the way. This year the Obama administration announced plans to issue new oil and gas leases along the southeast Atlantic coast, starting in 2017.

CVS seeks to buy Omnicare

Thu, 2015-05-21 13:00

If you're in the business of filling and managing prescription drugs, you probably want to get as close as possible to some of your potentially biggest customers: folks in nursing homes.

No surprise, then, that CVS Health is snapping up Omnicare, the nation's leading provider of pharmacy services for long-term care facilities. The deal, valued at nearly $13 billion, including debt, is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

“This is a really strategic deal for CVS Health,” says Dan Mendelson, chief executive of the consulting company Avalere Health.

Mendelson says with the American population aging, it makes sense for CVS to want a foothold in the markets served by Omnicare, which has 160 locations in 47 states.

“The seniors in these facilities are sometimes taking upwards of 10 medications,” Mendelson says.

When those medications don't mix well together, or when people take too little or too much of a medication, they can get really sick and even die. CVS could help seniors in long-term care avoid those health disasters, says Joel Hay, Professor of Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy at the University of Southern California. 

Hay says CVS has sophisticated systems to manage drug use.

“If they can bring these into the long-term care arena, senior living arena, there's a very good opportunity to dramatically improve health,” he says.

CVS might also be able to use the greater economies of scale from its acquisition of Omnicare to buy drugs at cheaper prices. It will get more customers, after all, says Albert Wertheimer, a professor of Temple University's School of Pharmacy. But Wertheimer doubts CVS would actually pass those cost savings to its customers.

“Well, that would be nice,” he says, “but I've learned to be skeptical over the years.”

Wertheimer says the more likely beneficiary would be CVS’s own bottom line.

Jack Dorsey: Twitter co-founder, Square CEO, punk

Thu, 2015-05-21 13:00

You have about a 0.00006 percent chance of starting a billion-dollar business. Jack Dorsey didn't just start one — he's got two.

Dorsey was 29 when he launched Twitter with his pals Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass back in 2006. His handle, @Jack, is Twitter's first personal account.

Since then, he has launched Square, a mobile payment company that he hopes will change the way we pay for thngs. You've probably used Square at an independently-owned store or restaurant. It's a little white minimalist card reader that plugs right into an iPad or iPhone. The company has also gotten into organizing, and even lending. It's hoping to be a one-stop-shop for small business owners.

Dorsey talked about Square and his life since Twitter at Dig Wines, a wine shop in San Francisco — where, by the way, Square readers are at the cash register.

Square’s “aha!” moment:

It was really our founding moment when our co-founder Jim McKelvey, who was my boss when I was 15 years old back in St. Louis Missouri, called me and said he just lost a sale of his glass art because he couldn’t accept a credit card. And he was calling me on his iPhone which was a super computer… We have all this power in our hands, but why couldn’t we do a simple thing, or something that seemed as simple, as accepting a piece of plastic? Which is far more convenient than cash, far more convenient than a check. Why isn’t that possible? The company is an answer to that question.

On how Square works:

The insight really came from looking at the back of the credit card and the back of the credit card is a magstripe. And a magstripe is really the same technology that a cassette tape is. It’s audio. If you listen to the audio on a magstripe, it sounds like a squirrel screeching really loudly. You know, if you put a read head next to that, then you can decode that audio into numbers and those numbers you can send up to processors. All that was required was an audio jack that didn’t just put sound out but also had mic in, and every iPhone at that time had a mic in ring that we just plugged into. Suddenly, we were able to push that audio into and decode those into numbers.

On what he does as a CEO:

First, assembling the right team. (That means) hiring, certainly, but it also means parting ways with folks that just aren’t cutting it…making sure that we’re paying attention to that team dynamic and [that] it’s collaborative and it’s really challenging itself. Number two is making sure decisions are being made. I say that if I have to make a decision, we have an organizational failure. (That's) because I don’t have the same context as someone who is working day to day with the data, with the understanding of the customer. I definitely see the organization and the people in it as the ones to make the decisions, because they have the greatest context for what needs to be done.

On how his experience with Twitter affected how he started Square:

I was a first-time CEO. It’s not a position I necessarily wanted to be in. It’s a position that I was grateful for but was put in, and we were growing extremely extremely fast. But what I took from all of that is how important it is to really focus on the fundamentals. And the fundamentals that I found were the company and the team, and Square was interesting because we definitely made new mistakes, because I wasn’t going out and saying “Well I’m going to get into microblogging again.” We did something completely different and we got into finance. When I started Square, I was in credit card debt. I had a terrible FICO score. I lived all the pain that our merchants live every single day. We took those lessons and we baked it into the product.

On the connection between emotion and finance:

When I walk into a place like this (wine shop), there’s an emotion. When I take this bottle of wine home after I purchase it, there’s an emotion. No matter how much of our life moves online, we will always have places like this where we come together. We trade stories. We communicate. We see each other, and I think it’s a mistake to extract the soul from commerce because it enables a lot of these experiences that we treasure for the rest of our life. 

On Square’s legacy:

I definitely want Square to have a massive impact, and I think it has the potential to be that. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure that’s the case. Really what that means is that that’s accessible to more people.

Predicting the first line of his obituary:

Jack Dorsey, punk.

Jack Dorsey: Twitter founder, Square CEO, punk

Thu, 2015-05-21 13:00

You have about a 0.00006 percent chance of starting a billion-dollar business. Jack Dorsey didn't just start one — he's got two.

Dorsey was 29 when he launched Twitter with his pals Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass back in 2006. His handle, @Jack, is Twitter's first personal account.

Since then, he has launched Square, a mobile payment company that he hopes will change the way we pay for thngs. You've probably used Square at an independently-owned store or restaurant. It's a little white minimalist card reader that plugs right into an iPad or iPhone. The company has also gotten into organizing and even lending. It's hoping to be a one-stop-shop for small business owners.

Dorsey talked about Square and his life since Twitter at a wine bar in San Francisco.

Square’s “aha!” moment:

It was really our founding moment when our co-founder Jim McKelvey, who was my boss when I was 15 years old back in St. Louis Missouri, called me and said he just lost a sale of his glass art because he couldn’t accept a credit card. And he was calling me on his iPhone which was a super computer… We have all this power in our hands but why couldn’t we do a simple thing, or something that seemed as simple as accepting a piece of plastic? Which is far more convenient than cash, far more convenient than a check. Why isn’t that possible? The company is an answer to that question.

On how Square works:

The insight really came from looking at the back of the credit card and the back of the credit card is a magstripe. And a magstripe is really the same technology that a cassette tape is. It’s audio. If you listen to the audio on a magstripe, it sounds like a squirrel screeching really loudly. You know, if you put a read head next to that, then you can decode that audio into numbers and those numbers you can send up to processors. All that was required was an audio jack that didn’t just put sound out but also had mic in, and every iPhone at that time had a mic-in ring that we just plugged into. Suddenly we were able to push that audio into and decode those into numbers.

On what he does as a CEO:

1. Assembling the right team.

Assembling the team means hiring, certainly, but it also means parting ways with folks that just aren’t cutting it…making sure that we’re paying attention to that team dynamic and [that] it’s collaborative and it’s really challenging itself.

2. Making sure decisions are being made.

The reason I say that if I have to make a decision, we have a failure, we have an organizational failure is because I don’t have the same context as someone who is working day to day with the data, with the understanding of the customer.

3. Making sure that those are the right decisions

that the decisions we are making today are far greater, and far more impactful than what we did yesterday. I definitely see the organization and the people in it as the ones to make the decisions, because they have the greatest context for what needs to be done.

On how his experience with Twitter affected how he started Square:

I was a first time CEO. It’s not a position I necessarily wanted to be in. It’s a position that I was grateful for but was put in, and we were growing extremely extremely fast. But what I took from all of that is how important it is to really focus on the fundamentals. And the fundamentals that I found were the company and the team, and Square was interesting because we definitely made new mistakes, because I wasn’t going out and saying “Well I’m going to get into microblogging again” We did something completely different and we got into finance. When I started Square, I was in credit card debt. I had a terrible FICO score. I lived all the pain that our merchants live every single day. We took those lessons and we baked it into the product.

On Square’s legacy:

I definitely want Square to have a massive impact, and I think it has the potential to be that. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure that’s the case. Really what that means is that that’s accessible to more people.

Predicting the first line of his obituary:

Jack Dorsey, punk.

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