National News

Silicon Tally: Trash to power

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-25 01:00

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 Lizzie O'Leary, host of Marketplace Weekend.

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Kerry Awaits Response From Israel, Hamas On Proposed Cease-Fire

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

The holy month of Ramadan comes to an end early next week with a celebratory feast, and Secretary of State John Kerry is hoping for a holiday cease-fire in Gaza. He proposed a seven-day truce.

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Honduran Foreign Minister: U.S. Should Address Root Causes Of Migration

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

Steve Inskeep talks with Honduran Foreign Minister Mireya Aguero de Corrales, who's in Washington to help find a solution to the thousands of Central American children arriving at the U.S. border.

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Fighting In Ukraine A Hurdle As Investigators Try To Access MH17 Site

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

International observers and air-crash experts visited previously unexamined pieces of the Malaysia Airlines wreckage Thursday and made some disturbing discoveries, including unrecovered human remains and what may be shrapnel holes in the plane's fuselage.

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Conservative Rep. DesJarlais Faces Primary Challenge In Tennessee

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

One of the most conservative members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, is defending his seat against state Sen. Jim Tracy, who is making the most of the incumbent's personal scandals.

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What's The Outlook For Nigerian Girls Kidnapped By Boko Haram?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

Renee Montagne talks with former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell for an update on the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped in April by the extremist group Boko Haram.

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Cape Cod Residents Object As Mass. Governor Offers To House Migrant Kids

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

Massachusetts is offering to house hundreds of unaccompanied minors who've been detained crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. One of the proposed sites is on Cape Cod, but residents are blasting the plan.

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'No Easy Answer': Ex-Baseball Manager La Russa On Legacy, Steroids

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

Tony La Russa, who won more games than any MLB manager in the past 60 years, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Links to steroids have kept notable players of his from getting that recognition.

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Former Student Dropped Out, But Still Appreciates A Special Teacher

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-25 00:58

Roger Alvarez didn't make it to graduation, but he still wants to thank his high school English teacher. (This StoryCorps interview first aired Jan. 29, 2012, on Weekend Edition.)

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France Sends Soldiers To Guard Air Algerie Wreckage In Mali

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 23:43

The MD-83 aircraft, owned by Spanish company Swiftair and leased by Algeria's flagship carrier, disappeared from radar in bad weather less than an hour after it took off; 116 people were aboard.

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Weekly Wrap: The week that was

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 23:11

David Gura talked with to Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post and Linette Lopez from Business Insider for a look back at the week’s biggest business news.

Montana Senator Comes Under Fire For Plagiarism Allegations

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:56

Sen. John Walsh of Montana was appointed to his seat, and he's preparing to face voters for the first time. The Democrat's bid will be complicated by plagiarism allegations.

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Following movie stars all the way to the theater

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

Keeping with the tech-heavy theme of the broadcast today, there's a report out from Nielsen saying 87 percent of people on Twitter said their decision to see a movie was influenced by the site. 

Plus, 65 percent of people on Twitter say they follow a film-related account. That is, specific movies, theater chains and actors.

I don't get it. I mean...I get it. But I don't get it.

 

How can tech companies diversify their workforces?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

Twitter is the latest tech company to disclose statistics on the race and gender of its workforce, following Facebook, Yahoo, Google and LinkedIn. Like those companies, Twitter is falling short on diversity. Technology companies seem to recognize that there is a problem. In an email to Marketplace, Twitter pointed to a list of organizations it supports, including Girls Who Code, YearUp, Black Girls Code, and others. 

These organizations help push more women and people of color through the pipeline and into tech jobs. 

Kathryn Finney, the founder of DigitalUndivided, says for people of color, networking can be a stumbling block.

"Usually in tech, you get a job because your friend works there, or you know the founder, or you went to the same school and were classmates," says Finney. "We're not part of those networks."

Brogrammers give up some ground in comp-sci classes

But people who work in tech say helping others break in is only part of the solution.

Leigh Honeywell, a security engineer, administrator of the Geek Feminism wiki, and member of Double Union, a feminist hacker space, says women who make it through the pipeline and get jobs in tech are confronted by a culture that can be downright sexist.

"I could tell you stories that would make you be like, is this 'Mad Men?'" Honeywell says, referring to the 1960s-set AMC TV series. 

She says simply bringing diverse employees in isn't enough.

"It's really not cool to be encouraging all of these young girls and young people of color to enter a field where they are going to face discrimination," says Honeywell. "It's up to those of us that are here, both men and women to encourage attitude changes."

Graphic by Shea Huffman/Marketplace

How can tech companies diversify their workforce?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

Twitter is the latest tech company to disclose statistics on the race and gender of its workforce, following Facebook, Yahoo, Google and LinkedIn. Like those companies, Twitter is falling short on diversity. Technology companies seem to recognize that there is a problem. In an email to Marketplace, Twitter pointed to a list of organizations it supports, including Girls Who Code, YearUp, Black Girls Code, and others. 

These organizations help push more women and people of color through the pipeline and into tech jobs. 

Kathryn Finney, the founder of DigitalUndivided, says for people of color, networking can be a stumbling block.

"Usually in tech, you get a job because your friend works there, or you know the founder, or you went to the same school and were classmates," says Finney. "We're not part of those networks."

But people who work in tech say helping others break in is only part of the solution.

Leigh Honeywell, a security engineer, administrator of the Geek Feminism wiki, and member of Double Union, a feminist hacker space, says women who make it through the pipeline and get jobs in tech are confronted by a culture that can be downright sexist.

"I could tell you stories that would make you be like, is this 'Mad Men?'" Honeywell says, referring to the 1960s-set AMC TV series. 

She says simply bringing diverse employees in isn't enough.

"It's really not cool to be encouraging all of these young girls and young people of color to enter a field where they are going to face discrimination," says Honeywell. "It's up to those of us that are here, both men and women to encourage attitude changes."

GM's post-recall strategy pays dividends

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

General Motors says compensating victims of its faulty ignition switches will cost $400-600 million, maybe more. That doesn’t include repairs and other costs associated with multiple GM recalls. The company’s recall crisis isn’t readily apparent in auto sales numbers. New GM cars are selling well, without the company having to offer big incentives.

“It’s amazing. General Motors would have had an outstanding quarter had it not been for all of the costs associated with the recalls,” says AutoTrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs.

Car industry watchers credit GM’s improved public relations response after early bumbling. But not everyone is impressed.

“If I were grading them in my class, they’d get a low pass, which is sort of the equivalent of a D,” says Paul Argenti, who teaches corporate communications at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

He wants to see the company better explain how it’s going to change a corporate culture that led to serious, deadly engineering flaws getting on the road. That goes beyond a simple PR response. It’s a real leadership challenge for CEO Mary Barra. Breaking decades of bad habits is a lot harder than fixing an ignition switch.

“All of what she’s doing and all of what she says will go for naught if a year from now, it’s business as usual,” says auto analyst Maryann Keller.

Mark Garrison: You wouldn’t think GM is the company going through a recall crisis based on sales numbers.

Michelle Krebs: It’s amazing. General Motors would have had an outstanding quarter had it not been for all of the costs associated with the recalls.

AutoTrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs adds that recalls actually provide a sales opportunity.

Krebs: A lot of these recall people are coming into the dealership and liking what they see in the showroom. They get their recall fixed, but they buy a new car.

And GM is driving sales without giving away the store, says Sean McAlinden with the Center for Automotive Research.

Sean McAlinden: They have not resorted to incentive campaigns to keep their sales up. Profitability on some of their newer models is very healthy.

Car industry watchers credit GM’s improved PR response after early bumbling. But Paul Argenti, who teaches corporate communications at Dartmouth’s business school, isn’t impressed.

Paul Argenti: You know, if I were grading them in my class, they’d get a low pass, which is sort of the equivalent of a D.

He wants to see the company better explain how it’s going to change a culture that led to serious, deadly engineering flaws getting on the road.

Argenti: What people wanna know in a crisis is why it happened. But then they also wanna know why that’s just not gonna happen again.

And that’s a real leadership challenge for CEO Mary Barra. For auto analyst Maryann Keller, it’s about action, not talk.

Maryann Keller: All of what she says will go for naught if a year from now, it’s business as usual.

And breaking decades of bad habits is a lot harder than fixing an ignition switch. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Facebook mobilizes, successfully

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:54

A couple years ago Facebook had to prove it could figure out how to make money off its mobile services.

Consider it done. 

Revenue from mobile ads helped propel the company’s profit to $800 million in the second quarter, up from $333 million a year earlier.

Those ads feature products like furniture or detergent, and they now appear — like it or not — as regularly as your friends' adorable baby photos in your Facebook mobile news feed.

“The mobile ads business is growing faster than anyone had anticipated,” says Ben Schachter,  internet analyst with Macquarie Capital, which invests in Facebook.

Google still owns the mobile ad space. The search giant took in 42 percent of all U.S. mobile ad revenue last year, according to the research firm eMarketer. Facebook commanded about 16 percent. But Google has been losing ground and Facebook is coming on strong.

“The thing is they're growing so fast, there's already the question, when are they going to take over Google,” says Karsten Weide, vice president for media and entertainment at International Data Corporation.

But there are some tougher questions, too, like how Facebook is going to keep up its daily user base, which didn’t grow in the latest quarter, and how Facebook plans to make money off new services like private messaging and virtual reality.

UNICEF Report On Female Genital Mutilation Holds Hope And Woe

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:43

The practice is on the decline in many countries. But the population boom in Africa and the Middle East will put millions of girls at risk unless more progress is made.

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The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 13:26

So much of the food we eat these days is encased in plastic. And behind it is a whole lot of research and innovation. We dive into some of the materials that keep food fresh and portable.

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