National News

FAA Seeks $12 Million Fine Against Southwest Airlines

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 10:18

A contractor for the airline failed to perform repairs properly and Southwest put some jets back into service despite their not being in compliance with federal regulations, the agency alleges.

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Your Wallet: The rising costs of childcare

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 10:15

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the cost of child care in America has nearly doubled since the mid-1980s: 

 We want to know: How did you made it work? Does a family member watch your kids? Do you pay for daycare? 

Tell us about your childcare sacrifices and solutions, either in the comments below or through email. We'd love to chat.

Fast-Food Scandal Revives China's Food Safety Anxieties

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:59

A U.S. company that supplies meat to fast-food chains in China has pulled all its products made by a subsidiary. An expose revealed some of the products were mishandled and had expired.

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Margot Adler, An NPR Journalist For Three Decades, Dies

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:46

Adler joined NPR in 1979 and covered everything from the emergence of the AIDS epidemic to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She was 68.

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It May Be Summer, But For Economists, This Week Feels Like Christmas

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:37

Each day this week will bring new decisions and reports that could have a big impact on the nation's economy.

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Uber ranks drivers... and passengers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:33

Uber, the ride sharing service in business in major cities around the world, lets you use a smart phone to hail a car.

When you use the service, at the end of the trip, you rank your driver on a five-point scale. A driver's ranking determines how much business he gets. Even if he can stay in business, drivers live in fear of too many low ratings.

It turns out Uber drivers can also rank Uber passengers on a scale of one to five. Uber keeps that number secret. But, over the weekend, the website Medium posted a work-around. With a few keystrokes and some copy and pasting, you could find out how you rank.

Unfortunately, Uber got wind of it all and quickly closed the loophole.

I did this last night, though. And not to brag, but I'm a 4.9.

To Stop Cheating, Nuclear Officers Ditch The Grades

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 09:19

A switch to pass-fail grading is curbing the "perfection" culture among U.S. nuclear missile forces. Critics of the old way say striving to be perfect invited cheating by those who launch the nukes.

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With Men's Y Chromosome, Size Really May Not Matter

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 08:41

The string of genes that make a man a man used to be much bigger, and some geneticists say it may be wasting away. Back off, others say. Y has been stable — and crucial — for millennia.

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Where The Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 08:19

Birds are everywhere, but the greatest concentration of different birds — the "bird mecca" of America — is not in our great parks, not in our forests, not where you'd suppose. Not at all.

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Court Orders Russia To Pay Former Yukos Shareholders $50B

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:52

The Permanent Court of Arbitration called Russia's seizure of the oil company "devious and calculated." The ruling, one of the largest such awards, adds to tensions between Moscow and the West.

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Dollar Tree To Buy Family Dollar In $8.5 Billion Deal

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:26

The deal will unite two of the United States' biggest discount stores. Dollar Tree will pay $74.50 for each share of Family Dollar and said it would run the company as a separate brand.

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For Muslims In Gaza, End Of Ramadan Marred By Fighting

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:08

The Muslim holiday Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and is usually a time for family celebration. This year, it also marks three weeks since the current war in Gaza started.

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Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar (yes, for more than $1)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 06:00

Dollar Tree announced on Monday that it is buying rival discount chain Family Dollar for approximately $8.5 billion in cash and stock. The combined company will have 13,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

The deal promises big cost-savings as operations are consolidated. Both companies have reported earnings that underperformed analysts’ predictions in recent quarters. Family Dollar has also been under pressure from investor/activist Carl Icahn, who has called for the chain to be sold.

During the recession, consumers flocked to these super-discount stores. But now, says economist Chris Christopher at IHS Global Insight, consumers’ balance sheets are improving, and moderate to middle income families may be drifting away from the deepest discounts.

“Wages are starting to gain a bit of traction,” says Christopher. “And in addition, there is a little bit of migration of people from the discount stores to the middle-tier retailers.”

Christopher says the super-discount stores — all of Dollar Tree’s items sell for $1 or less; Family Dollar has a wider range of goods reaching slightly higher price-points — can’t raise prices very much. So their margins are being squeezed as inflation starts to pick up at the wholesale and retail level.

How Protecting Wildlife Helps Stop Child Labor And Slavery

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 05:20

Food in supermarkets is increasingly connected to child labor and trafficking. Many laws aimed at ending these abuses overlook a key source of the problem: The rapid decline of fish and fauna.

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Team Investigating Downing Of MH17 Turns Back Due To Heavy Fighting

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 05:03

The crew — made up of Dutch and Australian experts — were headed toward the debris field when they heard explosions.

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Lawmakers Announce $17 Billion Deal Intended To Fix VA System

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 03:42

The package would overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and provide extra funding to hire more doctors and nurses. Lawmakers unveiled the plan on Monday.

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PODCAST: Turning over a new Leaf

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 03:00

More on the news that Dollar Tree will purchase Family Dollar for $8.5 billion, and what it means for both businesses moving forward. Plus, Nissan is hoping to turn over a new Leaf; While the company most likely loses money on its electric car, it hopes that it will see profits in the longrun. Also, the Muslim American community adds billions to the U.S. economy, especially during Eid Al Fitr, which follows Ramadan. So why haven't marketers caught on?

Conflict In Gaza: Here's What You Need To Know Today

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-28 02:55

Despite a demand from the United Nations Security Council for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire, fighting continued in Gaza, where the death toll has surpassed 1,000.

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Mobile payments app offers a window on intimacy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 02:00

Venmo is an app that allows users to exchange money easily with the click of a few buttons, which makes it particularly useful when it comes to everything from going to the movies to splitting the dinner check. The app is also a kind of social network, where both the parties involved in a transaction and the purpose of that transaction can be publicly available, sometimes in humorous ways. Freelance writer and author Chiara Atik recently published an article in Medium’s “Matter" on the topic.

One of the major issues with using more established platforms to see what people are doing is that users are pretty savvy at this point to social media — they know not to post about things they don’t want publicly consumed. However, Venmo currently exists outside of that frame of mind.

“Because Venmo has this utilitarian aspect to it, people are a little bit looser,” Chiara said. 

Even so, money has the power to be a large window into how people interact.

Said Chiara, "It’s a snippet of people’s relationships with each other."

However, as with Facebook and other social networks, this period won’t last. Once enough people are using the app — especially parents — most users will likely make their transactions private. 

Marketing remains largely untapped for Eid Al Fitr

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-28 02:00

Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid Al Fitr Monday -- It follows the month of Ramadan, a holy month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. For the last week or so, Muslims have been shopping for presents and new outfits for Eid.

Rafi-uddin Shikoh, CEO and Managing Director of consulting firm DinarStandard and lead author of State of the Islamic Economy, puts Muslim spending in the U.S. as high as $124 billion.

But you probably haven’t seen ads calling on American Muslims to spend their holiday money. Shikoh says capitalizing on that spending has not been a priority for marketers, because the American Muslim demographic is not as big as Hispanic, Asian or African American spending blocs.

The lack of attention is suprising, given that when it does happen, it’s a party. A Macy’s in Orange County, for example, put up decorations including ornate towers that stand tall with a message: “Happy Ramadan.”

https://twitter.com/amirlj_

“If you think about it, it's just these two bella tower displays in the women's store, and we had so many people coming in taking pictures with it like it's a tourist attraction,” says Jomana Siddiqui, the graphic designer hired by Macy’s to create the decorations.

Some people were so excited, they spontaneously started doing a dabke, an Arab line dance.

Siddiqui, who also founded online boutique ModernEid, says it’s not about having others validate your holiday. She says if retailers are smart, they'll pay more attention to the American Muslim demographic.

“Say you’re looking it from a retail perspective, making your customers happy and making them feel like, 'Hey, this is a store I want to stay loyal to.' -- That’s what retail is all about,” Siddiqui says. “You want customers to stay loyal to you.”

She says store managers quickly realized the opportunity they stumbled upon.

“I remember this comment stuck out in my head: ‘I'm kind of surprised nobody has done this before.’ It wasn't a question of ‘should we do this?’ It was a question of ‘why shouldn't we?’” Siddiqui says.

It’s estimated there are between 2 and 7 million Muslims in the United States. Mennah Ibrahim, with global marketing firm JWT, argues advertisers should spend more money to target Muslims, especially during Ramadan.

And many do -- just not here in the States.

“Brands like Chanel here in the Middle East provide longer variations of their outfits; brands like Hermès come in larger sizes so Muslims wear them as headscarves,” Ibrahim says.

Google launched the Ramadan hub and DKNY announced a Ramadan-inspired like called “Head Turners,” but the latter can only be found in the Middle East. The companies simply adjust their brand to the location.

Here in the U.S., though, Ibrahim says the same companies tread more cautiously because they're still getting to know the American-Muslim consumer.

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