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Updated: 12 min 38 sec ago

Can your school get decent wi-fi speed?

Mon, 2014-06-23 02:00

Technology is pouring into schools faster than their wi-fi can keep up with it.

Virtually all school officials in a recent survey of 447 school districts said they will need to upgrade their Internet speeds within three years. The survey was done by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a professional association for district technology leaders.

Education Super-Highway, which promotes high-speed Internet in schools, recommends a download speed of 100 Mbps* (megabits per second), for a school with 1,000 students and staff.  But, the  organization says "the typical public school has the same Internet access as the typical home – but with 100x more users."

The solution? Mostly more money. Nearly three-quarters of districts in the CoSN survey said the cost of the monthly Internet charges are a barrier to getting the speed they need. That wasn’t the only problem. Just over 10 percent said their Internet provider was not able to give them the higher speed they required.

Click the audio player above to hear more on the topic from Adriene Hill in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio

How to Use the Map:

The map shows  federal data on the maximum possible download speeds available at more than 70,000 schools in the country. It does not show whether the school has the top speed. You can see schools in your town, or nearby, by entering your zip code into the box above the map.

The green markers show schools that have speeds of at least 50 mbps available to them (enough for good Internet speed for at least 500 people, according to Education Super-Highway).  

Yellow markers show schools that could get 25 mbps to 50 mbps (enough for 250 to 500 people) and red markers show schools in areas where the top available speed is less than 25 mbps (enough for 250 people).  

By clicking on the markers you can see more specific information on download speed.

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect explanation for what the abbreviation "Mbps" means.  The text has been corrected.

How the GI Bill created a market for the GED

Mon, 2014-06-23 02:00

The GI Bill turned 70 this week. Among the benefits provided, the bill enabled returning WWII veterans to go to college.  

Those without high school diplomas turned to the General Educational Development Testing Service, still known as the GED. 

When he signed the GI Bill on June 22, 1944,  FDR created a huge new market for the private company behind the GED test, which had been created a few years earlier. 

Of course, in those days, the test was mainly taken by returning troops who didn’t have a high school diploma. More recently, the demographic interested in taking the test has changed a great deal.

“So now we’ve got the GED heavily weighted toward the prison population,” says Lois Quinn, a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee's Employment and Training Institute. “So the prisons become the greatest customer for the test.”

Quinn also says more teenagers are taking the test after dropping out of high school. 

Recently, the GED's value has been put into question.

“To the extent that there are more people with a high school diploma, then that would put people with a GED at a disadvantage,” says Chris Swanson, vice president of Editorial Projects in Education, which publishes Education Week.

In fact, the military now prefers recruits with a high school diploma over those with a GED. 

 

 

 

Referees get a tech upgrade at the World Cup

Mon, 2014-06-23 02:00

Soccer fans will be focused on the players during the World Cup, but tech fans should keep an eye on the referees -- Their equipment is getting an upgrade this year.

The first thing you may notice is a new, spray-foam-like shaving cream that refs will use to mark the position of free kicks. It vanishes a few seconds later.

“It’s kind of fun,” says Victor Matheson, a sports economist at The College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. He’s also a former ref for Major League Soccer and has used the spray before.

“But the big great innovation that really opens the door here is goal line technology,” says Matheson.

When the ball goes near the goal, you might also notice refs checking their watch – but not for the time. Seven high-speed cameras will now monitor each net and send an alert to the ref’s watch within a second of the ball crossing the goal line.

Sam Laird, who covers sports and technology for Mashable, says the hope is to avoid situations like the 2010 World Cup, where England lost a match to Germany thanks, in part, to a questionable call.

“It was a close play and the ref made the wrong call,” says Laird. “[It’s] a human error, but one that could have been corrected with the help of replay and for the first time that will be an option this year.”

But even with all the tech support refs will get at the World Cup this year, they are still human – which means there will likely be plenty of other reasons for fans to scream at them.

IRS scams to look out for

Fri, 2014-06-20 17:20

Just because it's summer doesn't mean that scammers are taking a break. And just because Tax Day is in the rearview mirror doesn't mean the IRS isn't figuring into some of these scams. Marketplace Money guest host David Lazarus is joined by Cameron Huddleston, a contributing editor at Kiplinger.com, to talk about what to watch out for in the latest set of criminal schemes.

Callers claiming to be IRS agents. The IRS initiates contact with taxpayers by mail, not by phone. If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, don't reveal any personal information or credit-card information because the IRS doesn't ask for payments over the phone. Instead, hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to see if an agent has a legitimate need to contact you.

Read more tips at Kiplinger, or click the play button above to hear the story

Weekly Wrap: An almost eerie calm

Fri, 2014-06-20 13:29

The week that was with Leigh Gallagher, from Fortune, and John Carney, from the Wall Street Journal.

New Highs:

Carney: We're sort of slowly grinding higher, but there's almost no volatitlity and a lot of people find it to be an almost eerie calm.

Gallagher: I'm among the people that think we're in for a bit of a shock probably later this year.

Indications of Inflation?:

Gallagher: She has done a good job at being very artful with her words... she was trying to reassure us that growth is happening and that there are improvements in the labor market. I think the biggest problem is the D-word, demand and there's only so much the Fed can do to spur that.

Carney: The most shocking thing about the Fed meeting is the long term projections of where the interest rates will eventually be are coming down. Meaning, instead of everybody thinking will go back to 4 percent long term, it's now down to like 3.75. And that's a change. 

Mary Barra's trip back to Washington:

Gallagher: The irony in all of this is that GM's car sale are actually doing quite well.

Carney: There's a really weird symmetry betweeen what happened with the banks and what's happening with general motors. We rescued them and then it turns out there's all these calamities out there. and they end up having to pay lots of money for things they did a long time ago.

Oil Markets and the Middle East

Carney: "There's a possibility for the biggest war in the Middle East in decades and yet we added like $4 or $5 to the price of crude.

GE nears deal for Alstom

Fri, 2014-06-20 13:28

General Electric has won a bidding war for a French company called Alstom.

GE mostly wants the company’s turbine business. But other issues had to be taken into account.

“The country of France is really concerned with jobs. And also technology security,” says Daniel Holland, an equity analyst at Morningstar.

GE has agreed to a 50-50 partnership on the nuclear business. Plus other joint ventures. And it promises thousands of new jobs in France.

But that may not be enough. Government officials have asked GE to revise its bid.

“The French government is completely capable of screwing up this transaction,” says Cliff Ransom, an independent equity analyst with Ransom Research.

But French politicians could be more than gate-keepers. More like business partners. The government intends to buy 20 percent of Alstom.

Who sues police departments the most? Police officers

Fri, 2014-06-20 13:24

Cassandra Smith worked for the Camden police department for 20 years. Smith is African-American, and she was the first woman on the force to be promoted to Captain. The same day she was promoted, Smith was assigned an unmarked car. She was excited, she says, so she got the keys and went outside to take a look. Inside the car, tucked in a door pocket, Smith found three bags of crack cocaine.

“This is big league. It’s hardball. Possession of cocaine is a criminal offense, I could have very well, not just ended up being terminated, but could have virtually ended up in jail,” she says.

“Either you leave police services, or you take a stand. And I took a stand," says Smith, who notes that she loved her job.

In New Jersey, millions of dollars are spent each year on legal fees and settlements for lawsuits involving police. And, while you might imagine that a small handful of bad-apple cops are behind the cases, a strange pattern starts to emerge when digging through the legal paperwork. While there are cases -- lots of them -- where civilians sue the police, there are more lawsuits where police are the plaintiffs. There are cases like Cassandra Smith’s, of discrimination and retaliation, as well as harassment cases against whistle blowers. Between 2009-2012, it cost New Jersey taxpayers $29 million for cases where police sued other officers, their police departments and the towns they work for. 

 

For Cassandra Smith, the cocaine in her car was just the beginning. After a series of similar incidents, conflicts and changes in command at the top, Smith ended up suing for sexual harassment and discrimination. Her case was eventually settled for $165,000. People involved with the case say there's a whole other side to the story, but sometimes it’s just easier and cheaper for all parties to settle. We found cases like Smith’s across the entire state. Cops accusing cops of harassment, retaliation, discrimination. But no one is trying to fix the problems that cause them.

The costs from these lawsuits are typically covered by insurance. Dave Grubb, executive director of the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund, part of the government entity that insures New Jersey towns, says many of the cases are petty.

“There was at least one case that we traced back to two individuals who couldn’t get along because of some school yard fights that they’d had probably in the third or fourth grade,” he says.

These cases, said Grubb, are wasting millions of dollars.

For Cassandra Smith, the only alternative would have been to go through internal affairs. But it turns out internal affairs answers to the chief of police. And, Smith says her problem was with the chief. 

“Chiefs gone wild” is how Antonio Hernandez, president of the National Coalition of Latino Officers, refers to the situation. He says he hears about cases like Smith’s all the time – not just in New Jersey, but also in New York and Pennsylsvania.

Hernandez says internal affairs should be monitored by the county or state, but it’s not. He notes that officers who commit real infractions and excessive abuses should be punished, and severely. But he says often times it’s the internal affairs system that’s abused, and as a result, innocent officers can be treated more like criminals than actual criminals.

“When we’re talking about an officer who misplaces a piece of equipment, getting suspended for 30 days, it’s a little excessive. Especially when the piece of equipment is an $8 slim jim,” he says.

A partial cause, notes Hernandez, is a lack of management training, which leads to deplorable treatment of police officers, combined with little or no oversight.

“I once had a lieutenant joke with me and said, 'You know, if internal affairs walks in here right now, tells you to dress in a pink tutu and to put on a dance, you’d better put it on, because if not, you’ll be fired,'” he says.

The number one reason for these lawsuits, says Lou Reiter, an ex-cop turned consultant and insurance auditor for police departments, is sloppily run internal affairs investigations.

"That's what gets you into trouble - when you don't do it right," he says.

“And so when they want to go after an officer who may have made a mistake or who may have engaged in misconduct they do it in a hasty manner and they forget to dot every i and cross every t. And when you do that you're opening yourself up to be challenged in some sort of a post agency appeal, whether it's arbitration or a grievance, or in a lawsuit,” he says. 

Reiter notes internal affairs investigators have to know the rules. Especially if they’re in a union department where knowing every nuance of collective bargaining is a requirement. He says often times the difference between a good department with no problems and ones with internal disputes comes down to the chief.

"At the end of three days we know who the thumpers are, the people who like to use force against people. We know who the skirt chasers are, the ones who are trying to use their positions of authority to work up dates. We know the people who are avoiding calls. If I know that, in three days of being on scene, everybody in that department should know the same thing," he says.

But look behind departments plagued by lawsuits, notes Reiter, and often times you'll find unions, likely to support officers in their cases. So, he says, states where officers are organized, like New Jersey, Florida, Ohio and California tend have more lawsuits. 

John Shane, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former Captain in the Newark, New Jersey Police Department, says another part of the problem has its roots deeply embedded in the way police are hired and promoted. Shane says bad police departments can be run like kingdoms where officer’s loyalty to superiors is valued over ability. He says that plus an out of date, draconian rule book causes problems.

“In the hands of an autocratic manager that rulebook can become oppressive and I can use it anyway I see fit," says Shane. "Because there’s a rule for everything and I know that I’m going to be supported on the inside by my bosses. So I just then open up the page and find you without your hat, your shoes aren’t shined, you’re three feet out of your sector and I’ll charge you for it and so goes the wheel of internal justice in the police department.”

In the wrong hands, internal affairs, says Shane, can be used as a weapon.

“The executive level of the organization wields the power over who gets investigated and who doesn't and how the investigation is going to play itself out. And, many times, when an investigation doesn't find what someone wanted it to find, then the investigator's punished for not finding in favor of the organization.”

Joanna Schwartz, a professor at UCLA who studies lawsuits involving police, says another reason for the spate of cop-on-cop lawsuits is that most police departments don’t pay settlements costs out of their own budgets.

“There is no financial pressure on those departments to take proactive measure to reduce the numbers of settlements and judgments,” she says.

In the business world, these lawsuits would be a huge problem, but no one in New Jersey’s government even seems to be tracking the cost. When something goes wrong in the state, police departments answer to their county prosecutors. The county prosecutor offices are overseen by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, which writes the internal affairs guidelines for the state. The attorney general’s office says it is concerned about the issue, but only focuses on police conduct that leads to lawsuits from the public, and that lawsuits brought by police should be bumped back to the municipalities.

Schwartz says police departments should be tracking them. If an officer has a problem with a colleague, or a civilian, departments could use the data as an early warning system. But she says most police departments don’t even know how many lawsuits are opened against an officer.

“The next incident, or the next interaction that that officer has with someone, could become that high profile case," says Schwartz. "So if you’re interested in resolving little problems, before they become big problems, it’s very important to assess that information in a proactive way instead of waiting for the next catastrophe.”

Produced with help from Damiano Marchetti.

This story also ran on WNYC under the headline: "Good Cop, Bad Cop: How Infighting is Costing New Jersey Taxpayers".

How Monet ends up on a mousepad for $10.95

Fri, 2014-06-20 13:23

When one of Monet’s iconic “water lilies” paintings goes up for auction at Soetheby’s on Monday, bids will start at $33 million. But a nice cocktail shaker can be had for just under $26.  

This would never happen to Matisse.Anyone wanting to put one of his famed paper cut-outs on a coffee mug— or an Andy Warhol, or a Jackson Pollock— will have to have to talk with Ted Feder, or one of his employees.

“We’re going to say no, but you have to talk with us,” he says. Asked why the answer will be no, he answers succinctly: “Because of the schlock factor.”

Feder runs the Artist Rights Society, which represents the estates of many of 20th-Century art’s greatest hit-makers, including Picasso, Rene Magritte, and Georgia O’Keefe.

But not Monet. Copyright in the U.S. expires 70 years after the artist dies. Monet died in 1926, so his work has been public domain since 1996. Since then, says Feder, “People are free to commit mayhem on his work and do whatever they want.”

Much of that mayhem is done by Art Plates.  “We do switch plates, mousepads, coffee mugs,” says the company’s sales director, Mike Mason. “And our travel mug, which is our famous Mugzie.”

In any museum gift shop, Mason says, the set of Monet drink coasters on offer was probably made in his company’s California factory. The shop’s twenty workers and their 14 machines can turn out up to 5,000 pieces a day.

Van Gogh has been the hottest seller for the last year, he says, but some things are evergreen. “Monet does very, very well. The brighter and more vivid the color, the more it shows up on different items.”  

At the online gift shop operated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a search for “Monet” yields 72 results. Mason says some are his, but this slim-fit t-shirt isn’t one of them. “That we don’t do,” he says. “No clothing.”

Staff from the Metropolitan could not be reached for comment on the shop’s Monet-themed items.

The first microchip goes on auction, no one buys it

Fri, 2014-06-20 13:14

A major auction house had a big ticket item up for sale earlier this week. It was not a painting by the father of French Impressionism. It was however, a work of art in its own right: The prototype for the world's first integrated circuit. The first microchip, mounted on a piece of glass.

Christie's tried to sell it yesterday; Auctioneers called it, "virtually the birth certificate of the modern computing era." They estimated it would sell for more than a million dollars.

In the end, no one wanted it -- or no one was willing to pay enough for it.

It didn't sell.

Introducing: "Brought to you by..."

Fri, 2014-06-20 12:49

Did you know Doritos were born in a Disneyland dumpster? Or that the Slinky was the happy accident of a naval engineer?

At Marketplace, we’re always curious about the brains behind the products that have become synonymous with American life, so we’re starting a new series called “Brought to you by…”

We’ll track down the innovators and inspirations behind the stuff you use every day and tell those stories on the radio and our website.

Since the solstice is on the horizon, we’re starting with stuff that Americans buy up and bring out every summer, from sunscreen to pool noodles to popsicles.

So what do you want to know about?

Tell us your favorite summer products in the comments below, and we’ll track them back down to their start.

For-profit schools, loan defaults and the federal ATM

Fri, 2014-06-20 11:24

The type of school you attend can determine how likely it is you will default on your loans. The graphic below looks at students who began repaying their loans in 2010.  It compares the percentage of students with loans at a given type of school, with the three-year default rate for that type of school.

 

The second chart looks at 2,057 for-profit schools grouped by the percentage of revenue they get from federal grants and loans:

You can check out individual for-profit schools at the full federal report here.

Hold up on aid threatens for-profit college

Fri, 2014-06-20 11:20

The U.S. Department of Education is tightening the screws on Corinthian Colleges Inc., the parent company of Everest, Heald and WyoTech for-profit colleges.

The federal body charges that Corinthian is evading questions about improper marketing to prospective students and allegations that some schools changed students' grades and altered attendance reports.

Corinthian will be prohibited from accessing any federal financial aid funds for 21 days, a sharp blow to a company that relies on those funds for the majority of its income. In a report filed with the S.E.C, Corinthian said "...the company's cash flows will not be sufficient to meet its obligations as they become due, which would cause the company to be unable to continue as a going concern."

If the company shutters schools, Corinthian's approximately 72,000 students, who are enrolled in everything from degree programs to trade schools, will need backup plans. It's not clear just yet what their options will be.

Bobbleheadmania hits Dodger Stadium

Fri, 2014-06-20 11:04

When it comes to the Los Angeles Dodgers' performance on the field this season, it’s been a disappointment; the team is playing barely above .500.

But if you take attendance, the Dodgers are clear winners, leading the majors with an average 46,088 attendance.  As it turns out, the biggest draw for fans has nothing to do with who’s playing on the field.

When looking at the most-attended Dodger games of the season – excluding Opening Day – they all have one thing in common: Something is being given away, whether it be a zip-up hooded sweatshirt, a mother’s day clutch, or the most popular item of all, a bobblehead.

“The bobbleheads are worth more than a ticket,” Tony Manrique exclaimed a few weeks ago, as he walked through a turnstile on the upper deck of Dodger Stadium after picking up his bobblehead honoring ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

The cheapest seats on Stubhub for the Kershaw bobblehead night were $32, more than five times what tickets went for the night before even though the opponent remained the same (the Philadelphia Phillies).

When the Dodgers offered a package selling just tickets to games where bobbleheads were given out, it sold more than every other package combined. The popularity of the giveaway isn't surprising to Stephanie Rosil, who stood on the upper deck of the stadium with her Kershaw bobblehead still safely in its box.

“Everyone collects them," said Rosil. "It’s like bringing a little player home. Who wouldn’t want to take Kershaw home with them?”

Like many fans, Rosil says she chooses which game to go to months in advance based solely on the giveaway.

“If you come to a game you pay the money, you pay for parking, you might as well get something that you like,” said Rosil.

Dodgers look beyond baseball to attract fans

Major League clubs handed out 2.59 million bobbleheads in 2013, twice as many as they did five years ago, according to Sports Business Journal.

No team gives away as many bobbleheads as the Dodgers. David Siegel, vice president of ticket sales, says when it comes to getting people in seats, giveaways are as close to a sure thing as there is in baseball.

“Regardless of how popular the team is, there could be as much as a 15,000-20,000 seat bump depending on what we’re giving away,” said Siegel.

Siegel won’t disclose how much the Dodgers spend on giveaways, which get more elaborate every year. Some of the cost is defrayed by sponsorships. Regardless, he says the money is well-spent.

The Dodgers field the most expensive sports team in the world, but a roster of stars provides no guarantee of winning. Siegel says that means the Dodgers try to to think beyond baseball.

“Obviously, we are tied to that and this is our core business, but we want people to come out here regardless of how the team is playing,” said Siegel.

The toy in the box of crackerjacks 

The key to the giveaways is uniqueness: There are only 50,000 or so made, you can’t buy them in the shop, and like the little toy buried in the crackerjack box, there’s no underestimating the value of free prizes. There’s also the nostalgia factor, says Irving Rein, a professor of communications at Northwestern and author of the book "The Elusive Fan: Reinventing Sports in a Crowded Marketplace."

"It almost reminds me of a carnival, getting the Kewpie doll," said Rein.  “I think it invokes memories. Those giveaways mark relationships. You can say 'I remember three years ago when I took  Jimmy to the game for the first time and we got this bobblehead doll.' You can look at the bobblehead in the house and it ties up the brand identity.”

The person credited with inventing sports souvenirs is Danny Goodman, a marketing executive who was hired by the Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley soon after the team moved to Los Angeles. Dodgers team historian Mark Langill says under Goodman, the team hosted batting glove and cap nights in the 1960’s.

"And it’s just evolved over the years," said Langill. "As people are drawn more to watching the game on television it’s important for teams to say, 'Let’s get the people out here.' Nowadays you don’t hear people say they want to see the Phillies or the Giants. It’s 'I want to go Hello Kitty Night.' They don’t care who we play, what time, or what day of the week it is.”

The rise of the bobblehead craze

Ceramic bobbleheads have been sold at ballparks for decades, but before the late 1990’s usually the only figurines available were historic or simply a generic version for each team. There were fears that featuring one active player would be bad for clubhouse chemistry.

The Dodgers' rivals, The San Francisco Giants, are credited with hosting the first modern bobblehead giveaway in 1999, handing out 35,000 plastic Willie Mays statues. 

The Dodgers hosted their first bobblehead nights in 2001 with three team legends: Tommy Lasorda, Kirk Gibson, and Fernando Valenzuela.

Langill says it wasn’t until a bobblehead promotion five years ago featuring a popular active player, Manny Ramirez, that he truly saw the power of the giveaway.

"It was a Wednesday afternoon game with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and normally at that type of game you’d be lucky to get 20,000 people," said Langill. "It was just packed. And that really shows you the impact of the right promotion at the right time. It doesn’t matter if you play the game at six in the morning on a Tuesday, people are going to want their prize.”

There have been some notable misses over the years, including a baseball giveaway in 1995 that sold out Dodger Stadium -- The game had to be suspended when fans threw their free baseballs on the field as a protest to then manager Tommy Lasorda and right fielder Raul Mondesi being ejected from the game for arguing a call. 

It was the first National League game to be forfeited in 41 years. And all because of a giveaway gone wrong.

Yo, stop making a big deal out of the Yo hack

Fri, 2014-06-20 09:57

Maybe it's because summer is almost here, or maybe it's because the Amazon Fire phone did not blow anyone's mind this week, but Yo has officially blown up. The App, which through the right lens could almost be considered tech industry self-parody, works like this: You and your friends sign up, and then with a click of the button trade one singular message. "Yo." And that's it. It's reportedly raised $1 million in funding, and it's already cracked the top five apps in Apple's App Store.

Here's the other way Yo has blown up: it has also had its security flaws exposed. Three students told TechCrunch today that they were able to mine the app for user phone numbers. Other developers seem to have backed that up, also saying that Yo can allow non "yo" messages to be sent.

But hold on. If this sounds truly scary to you, then you might need a reality check. Security flaws in popular apps are a serious issue, no question. But..."major security flaws" ? Ehhh. Just remember: getting random people's phone numbers and sending people messages that don't consist of the word "yo" is something you can do with a phone book. Any 7th grader with a taste for prank calls knows that.

I asked one of our Marketplace Tech regulars, Chester Wisniewski of Sophos, to characterize just how big of a deal the yo hack was, and he quoted the Bard. "Much ado about nothing." What Wisniewski did say was that Yo's security flaws are demonstrative of a larger problem: the low barrier to entry in the app universe for thrown-together software that doesn't have proper security. That's a bigger challenge for the app world, and Yo is a pretty low-priority example. 

So until this particular issue turns into something more serious--like access to your credit card data, or delivering your phone a virus--remember that like apps, not all "hacks" are created equal. Anyone still worried about this should look at the app permissions screen: 

 

 

This narrative can change of course, but it's not time to go Chicken Little on Yo just yet. If you want to see a list of app/web hacks that you should pay more attention to, look below:

6 notable tech hacks

The Tweetdeck Dictionary.

Via Creative Commons/Flickr/Sean MacEntee

 

1. Tweetdeck

 

The social media managing program briefly shut down after a "security issue" which caused bizarre tweets to show up in users' feeds. Twitter user @Firoxl, who uncovered the issue, later tweeted to CNN that his discovery "was some sort of accident."

The WhatsApp icon on an iPhone home screen.

Via Creative Commons/Flickr/Jan Persiel

 

2. WhatsApp

 

A group called KDMS Team took credit for defacing the website of the popular messaging app. The group left a message that simply appeared to raise awareness about Palestine, saying "Palestinian people has [sic] the right to live in peace." WhatsApp said in a statement that "no user data was lost or compromised" while their website had been hijacked.

Spotify HQ.

Via Creative Commons/Flickr/Sorosh Tavakoli

 

3. Spotify

 

Though the security breach only appeared to affect one unlucky user, Spotify decided it wasn't taking any chances. It pushed out a new version of the app to Android users that prompted users to uninstall the previous version, and asked users to re-enter their login details. As for the one user who was hacked, the company blog said "this did not include any password, financial or payment information."

Via Wikimedia Commons

 

4. Pinterest

 

Pinterest couldn't catch a break--it was hacked twice in the span of four months. The first time, users reported spam images of women in underwear, usually accompanying a weight loss spam message. The second time around, users' feeds were littered with messages advertising a strange Asian fruit purported to burn fat. Pinterest put affected accounts into safe mode, and encouraged its users to use "unique and strong passwords" to prevent another episode.

 

Skype's booth at SXSW 2012.

Via Creative Commons/Flickr/1000heads

5. Skype

 

2014 got off to an auspicious start for Skype when it became the latest victim of a hack attack from the Syrian Electronic Army. Skype's Twitter and Facebook pages, along with its company blog, were hijacked with identical messages calling for an end to government spying. The messages were quickly removed, and Skype tweeted the following day that no user information had been compromised.

 

Via Wikimedia Commons

6. Snapchat

 

Out of all the hacks on this list, Snapchat probably got hit the worst. Early in January 2014, hackers exploited a security flaw in the app's "Find Friends" function that was used to download the usernames and phone numbers for 4.6 million accounts and later posted the data online. Though the company had previously acknowledged that this was possible, they later released an updated version of the app that came with an option to opt out of Find Friends.

 

Pudding you in the mood for chocolate

Fri, 2014-06-20 08:01

Here's an extended look at the Marketplace Datebook for the week of June 23:

On Monday, the National Association of Realtors tells us how many existing homes were sold in May.

But hey, what about new homes? You only have to wait until Tuesday. That's when the Commerce Department gives us those numbers.

Then of course you have to fill your house with appliances. On Wednesday the Commerce Department reports on durable goods orders, including appliances.

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology discusses the future of human space exploration.

Next, let's go back in time and stand in a supermarket checkout line in Troy, Ohio. Come on, it'll be fun. Hear that beeping sound? Forty years ago on June 26 a pack of Wrigley's gum made history when it became the first purchase scanned using a bar code.

Thursday is National Chocolate Pudding Day. Seriously, I'm not making this up. Someone else did.

On Friday, fashion designer Vera Wang turns 65. She's famous for those gorgeous wedding gowns.

And since it's summer it's time to get out of the house. "Transformers: Age of Extinction" explodes onto the big screen.

The Gray Market: An invisible $2 trillion economy

Fri, 2014-06-20 07:37

When jobs are tough to find and salaries remain stagnant, sometimes people turn to something else to make ends meet. Maybe they start playing poker, or stripping or even selling Tupperware under the table to pay their bills — not necessarily illegal, but not necessarily mainstream.

According to Edgar Feige, economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, unreported income totals $2 trillion in the U.S. That includes illegal activities like drug dealing, but it also includes side jobs like nannies and eBay sellers.

We want to hear stories of the little and big things you did for money in this gray area. Email us or leave a comment.

Dan Szematowicz, Senior Producer of Marketplace Weekend, shares his story of how he pulled through leaner times early in his career:

A group of friends and I went to the local casino for an evening of shenanigans and tomfoolery. Next thing I know, I’m sitting at a poker table playing VERY low stakes Texas hold’em.

Over the next few hours, the stack of chips in front of me grew. Beginner’s luck, right?

I enjoyed the game, so I went back the next weekend. Same result. I studied the game, constantly practiced and steadily moved up in stakes. After a few months, I was making significantly more money from playing poker than I was from my more respectable job. That extra money allowed me to bridge the gap between what I was pulling down from my entry-level radio job, and the bills that needed to be paid. In turn, that gave me the feeling of security that I needed to concentrate on growing my radio career.

What does pain have to do with econ? Oh, everything

Fri, 2014-06-20 04:25

A pain clinic is a strange place to think about economics.

And to be honest, I wasn’t at the time. I was thinking of myself. My abdomen, freshly scarred from two surgeries to remove endometriosis. My pants, which didn’t fit. The pain and numbness that ran down my right leg. My hand, which wouldn’t hold a pen. I’m a reporter. I have to hold a pen.

The GW Pain Center was on my road back.

The waiting room was full of people with their own pain. Diabetics who’d lost a limb. Older men and women in wheelchairs. Restless kids dragged along, too loud for the small, tense space. Veterans willing themselves to walk a few steps, knowing a punishing set of parallel bars and weights was just inside the clinic doors.

We were not always kind to one another. How can you prioritize one person’s pain over another? Is my set of stairs worth more than your heavy purse? Does your 7 on the 1-10 scale look anything like mine?

Ruth Graham wrote a spectacular story in the Boston Globe about how pain, and our subjective responses to it, can exacerbate inequality. I feel like I saw this a million times over. The skeptical eyebrow at a patient, sometimes me. Were they seeking drugs? Really hurting? How do you know?

I’ve been thinking about pain a lot as we build our new show, Marketplace Weekend. In part because my experience was so formative to who I am now, both physically and emotionally. But more because of pain’s subjective nature. And the necessity to recognize that no matter what you’re experiencing, someone else is living a different experience. Even if you can’t quite grasp it.

But you can ask. And that, to me, is the essence of reporting.

How are you? What was that like? Tell me how it felt.

The author Leslie Jamison wrote a gorgeous and searing book, "The Empathy Exams." I recommend the whole thing, but the first essay, on her time making money as a medical actor, just nails this. “Empathy isn’t just listening,” she writes, “it’s asking the questions that need to be listened to.”

Or even if I’m stumbling around and stabbing at the wrong questions.

“Empathy requires knowing you know nothing.”

That’s how it is with money, too. It pushes you, shapes you. Your 1-10 scale of losing a job is utterly different from mine. That framed first dollar over the bar? Tell me why it’s special.

Our show certainly won’t be perfect, and there will be times when we know nothing. But we’ll aim to ask, with humor, curiosity, and, I hope, empathy.

GE Capital ordered to pay quarter of a billion dollars

Fri, 2014-06-20 04:00

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced the largest federal credit card settlement over discrimination in U.S. history. GE Capital Retail Bank, now known as Synchrony Financial, was ordered to pay $228.5 million in refunds to customers.

The CFPB says the bank told credit card customers certain services were free when they were not; signing people up and charging them without their consent, and even charging people who weren’t eligible to receive the service.

The largest chunk of the settlement ($169 million) is over allegations GE Capital Retail Bank declined to offer debt relief to people if they asked for service in Spanish, or if they had mailing addresses in Puerto Rico.

“These kinds of practices are amazingly common,” says Jill Fisch, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania. “Historically credit cards have been an area where the credit card companies are able to identify lower income and less educated consumers and take advantage of them and we’ve seen that over many years.”

GE Capital self-reported the incidents and says it regrets its error. In April, Bank of America paid $727 million over similar practices, and over the past two years American Express, Capital One, Chase, and Discover have all been ordered to refund customers more than $700 million dollars total. 

PODCAST: Why Russia is allegedly anti-fracking

Fri, 2014-06-20 04:00

More on the news that NATO is accusing Russia of giving money to anti-fracking environmentalist groups. Plus, Detroit is implementing new pension plans for some of its residents, the implications of which have other states nervous. Also, Minessota will be the next state to offer businesses the option of classifying as b-corporations, a title which allows the equal prioritization of social missions and profit.

Silicon Tally: YO YO YO

Fri, 2014-06-20 03:00

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

This week we're joined by Marketplace's own Sabri Ben-Achour. Ben-Achour reports on Wall Street, finance, and anything New York and money related. var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-yo", placeholder: "pd_1403265357" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'https://polldaddy.com/survey.js':'http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

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