National News

Cartoonist Cathy Guisewite on her best gift ever

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:00

Ten years ago, we started calling up big names in business and culture and asking them, "What was the best gift you've received?"

In honor of Marketplace's 25th anniversary and the holiday season, we've pulled the "Best Gift Ever" series out of our archives. Here's the answer we got from cartoonist and "Cathy" creator Cathy Guisewite back in 2004: 

The best gift I ever received was a two-part gift I got for Christmas when I was 10 years old. 

A bride doll and an electric train. 

They were not things I'd ever told anybody I'd wanted. But they were like my secret heart desires because those exact opposites were who I was and what I loved. 

The electric train was who I appeared to be. I loved everything mechanical, I wished I was a boy.... The bride doll was my more romantic side that I think wasn't as apparent, but that became my time with mom, making doll clothes.

Those two sides of myself are, for better or for worse, the psychotic conflict inside that has fueled almost all of my creative work.


Private equity finds PetSmart yummy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 11:00

The year’s biggest buyout deal went down today — not in cable TV or a mobile app or a Chinese brand, but in the pet business.

Private-equity firm BC Partners and investment partners purchased PetSmart for $8.7 billion. Analysts say the deal suggests brick-and-mortar PetSmart outlets have a decent financial pulse, despite the onslaught of online competition. Some items, say a hefty 30-pound pack of Iams Minichunks, sell better in stores than online.

This deal came about due to a confluence of several factors: an aggressive PetSmart shareholder agitating for a sale, the company’s willingness to cut expenses, and BC Partners’ ability to  borrow sufficient capital, given PetSmart’s low debt and secure cash flow.



A Copper Bedrail Could Cut Back On Infections For Hospital Patients

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 10:07

Around the world, patients acquire new infections simply from spending time in a hospital. One way to fight back: replacing hospital bed rails with copper, a natural infection-killer.

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Denmark Claims Part Of The Arctic, Including The North Pole

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 09:39

The region claimed is more than the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined. The energy-rich Arctic is also contested by Canada, Russia, Norway and the U.S. A U.N. panel will study the Danish claim.

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Endless Ebola Endemic? That's The 'Risk We Face Now,' CDC Says

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 09:03

Dr. Thomas Frieden visits West Africa this week to assess the fight against Ebola. His goal? Figure out how to keep the disease from turning into a permanent problem.

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'Facebook users' are no longer 'Facebook users'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 08:59

Turns out, the word "user" – the term the software industry uses when referring to the people who use their product – is no longer a favorable one at Facebook headquarters.

"Facebook switched to internally calling its users 'people,'" says Robinson Meyer, associate editor at The Atlantic. "So instead, on its internal dashboards talking about 'daily average users,' it talks about 'daily average people.'"

Armchair Socialists Who Don't Sit — And Other BMJ Christmas Articles

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 08:07

Researchers found armchair socialists — and their right-wing counterparts — were more physically active than centrists. Another tongue-in-cheek study in the journal concluded that men are idiots.

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Prolific Prescribers Of Controlled Substances Face Medicare Scrutiny

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 08:00

In the face of abuse concerns, Medicare covered more prescriptions for potent controlled substances in 2012 than in 2011. Top prescribers often have faced disciplinary action or criminal charges.

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Small Businesses Drop Coverage As Health Law Offers Alternatives

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 07:01

Subsidies created by the health law to help workers buy their own coverage and steady increases in companies' insurance costs have made it easier for them to decide to discontinue health insurance.

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From Australia To France, Another Bad Day For Uber

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 06:50

Uber's "surge pricing" quadrupled fares for some customers trying to flee the area in Sydney where a gunman took hostages. France banned Uber's low-cost service over its lack of professional licenses.

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Is Ted Cruz Running For President...In 2008?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 06:23

Even in an age of galloping ambition, the Texan rides ahead of the pack. Obama liked to quote Martin Luther King's line about "the fierce urgency of now," Cruz seeks to embody it at every turn.

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Families Of Newtown Victims Sue Rifle Manufacturer

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 05:46

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 9 families, alleges the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle should have never been sold to the public, because it is a military weapon.

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'Half-Asian'? 'Half-White'? No — 'Hapa'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 05:37

Code Switch contributor Alex Laughlin explores the nuance and meaning of an increasingly popular identifier.

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Quiz: Analyzing after-school activities

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 04:39

More children participate in sports than clubs or music lessons, according to the Census Bureau.

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Rare Northern White Rhino Dies At San Diego Zoo

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 04:12

Now, only five remain in the world. Angalifu was thought to be 44 years old. He died of old age.

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PODCAST: Fighting drought with technology

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 03:00

Renewed concern in Russia with the ruble slipping yet again. More on that. Plus, we look at the biggest private equity deal of 2014: PetSmart agreeing to be purchased for $8.7 billion. And if you haven't heard, California is experiencing a serious drought. It's also the home of that cradle of innovation, We look at what the tech sector is doing to attack the drought.

WATCH: Live, Local Coverage Of Australian Hostage Siege

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:42

A gunman is holding an unknown number of hostages at a downtown chocolate cafe. Police have put a swath of Australia's largest city under lockdown.

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Live Blog: 5 Escape From Sydney Cafe After Being Held Hostage

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:34

An unknown number of people remain inside the cafe. Police cordoned off a huge swath of Australia's largest city.

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Closing the gender gap

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:00

Possible 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton is in New York on Monday to talk about the knowns and unknowns when it comes to women's issues. A group called Data2X run by the United Nations Foundation is trying to tackle what it calls a gender data gap. We take a look at what that gap is and why it matters.

Click the media player above to hear more.

The 'one percent' lead holiday retail

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-15 02:00

The richest Americans will lead the way in holiday spending again this year.

At the beginning of the Great Recession, luxury retail fell hard – some brands and product-categories saw declines of 30 to 40 percent, says retail analyst David Schick at Stifel Nicolaus. That compared to declines under 5 percent for mass-market retail.

But after the recession, luxury retail rebounded sooner and stronger than the rest of the market. And that strength has continued through 2014. Management consultancy Bain & Company predicts the global luxury market will have grown by 5 percent in 2014; the increase will be 6 percent in the U.S. – significantly higher than mainstream U.S. retail.

“At the higher end of the income spectrum, we have seen financial assets helping the consumer in a way that isn’t helping other quintiles of income,” says Schick. “And wage growth is the same story.” That increased wealth at the top will likely help luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co.

Schick is quick to point out, though, that middle-income Americans are also doing better this year, with paychecks trending higher, unemployment down, and gas prices falling hard.

These consumers might now feel more comfortable splurging on a high-end brand—a Kate Spade handbag or Coach wallet.

“It’s not just the 1 percent that are carrying along high-end retailers,” says Kit Yarrow, professor emeritus of psychology at Golden Gate University and author of ‘Decoding the New Consumer Mind.’ “Obviously, the high-end retailers aren’t going to be doing well without them. But it’s also the huge influx of money coming from Chinese consumers that are visiting the U.S., and other nationalities. And also middle-class and upper-middle-class consumers who are stretching, because they perceive the value of those products to be worth it.”

Yarrow conducts "shop-alongs" with American consumers, including those in the six-figure income bracket. Stocks, home prices, and income have all combined to make these households even wealthier than they were before the recession.

But while they can afford to spend on luxury goods, she finds they don’t want to flaunt their money.

“They understand that there’s sort of an anti-wealth sentiment,” says Yarrow. “They don’t want to be conspicuous in their consumption. They don’t want other people to distrust them or feel separated from them. One woman I interviewed was embarrassed to say in front of other people that she’d paid full-price for a product, because she thought they might find that to be offensive.”