National News

Government Says Bosses Can't Force Workers To Get Health Tests

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-02 06:55

When is a voluntary program no longer voluntary? That's the question about corporate wellness programs, which give employees hefty financial incentives to undergo health screenings.

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Iraq, Kurds Agree On Deal Over Oil Exports, Budget

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-02 06:15

The agreement could ease some pressure on Iraq's government, which is facing an economic crisis, and on Kurdish authorities who have had trouble paying government employees and security forces.

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Costa Concordia Captain Defends Himself In First Testimony

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-02 06:14

Francesco Schettino said he didn't change the route of the cruise liner to impress a Moldovan dancer he was having an affair with.

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Al-Shabab Takes Responsibility For Killing 36 In Kenya

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-02 04:11

Witnesses said armed militants opened fire on workers at a quarry in the northeast part of the country. The country's police chief resigned and the interior minister was fired.

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Quiz: Manufacturing job skills around the world

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-02 03:30

An OECD report shows which countries are the top for training workers.

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PODCAST: A $90 million game of Marco Polo

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-02 03:00

More hedge funds have closed down for good this year than at any time since the financial crisis, according to new calculations by Bloomberg News. These are fancy and often expensive investment vehicles for high net worth people and many have struggled not just to beat the market to but even to keep up. More on that. And who says international trade is a dreary subject? Netflix is betting that the life of an Italian mercantile trader will be the next 'House of Cards' or 'Game of Thrones.' The streaming video company has put up a reported $90 million to produce a series about … Marco Polo. Plus, in case you wondered, the MBA isn't the only way to go. The co-founder of the huge social media company Twitter was a graphic designer. Biz Stone is now CEO of an outfit called Jelly. He joined us to talk about how his experience as a graphic designer gives him a unique advantage.

Wife, Son Of Islamic State Leader Are Detained In Lebanon

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-02 02:46

Authorities say they detained the wife and son of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi near the border with Syria. The two are being interrogated.

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Black Friday is so last week

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-02 02:00

With the big holiday shopping days out of the way, here comes Giving Tuesday. Chances are, some of the money donated will support schools. After religion, the most popular charitable cause in this country is education. Here are some notable numbers in education philanthropy:

$52 billion

The amount Americans donated to education last year, according to the Giving USA Foundation. Adjusted for inflation, that's 7.4 percent more than in 2012.

85 percent

The portion of wealthy donors that supported educational causes last year, according to the 2014 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy—larger than the percentage that gave to any other cause. 

$350 million

The size of a record gift to Harvard University's School of Public Health, donated by the family of alumnus Gerald Chan. 

9 percent

The increase in charitable giving to colleges and universities in 2013, which rose to almost $34 billion, according to the Council for Aid to Education

Biz Stone on why philanthropy makes business sense

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-02 02:00

Over the last couple of days, the gods (small "g") proclaimed we were supposed to buy things on the internet for Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday, and then Cyber Monday. Tuesday—Giving Tuesday, rather—focuses on charity.

Picking up this theme, we turned to a leading light of online social media who argues that in the near future, companies will spend most of their advertising money on ... philanthropy.

Biz Stone was a co-founder of Twitter and is now CEO of Jelly. Among other things, his new company has an app called "Super," which lets users share stylized images with text (think digital postcards). 

The app certainly draws on his background as a graphic designer. In fact, Stone has no MBA, let alone a formal education. But it's his lack of conventional training that he credits with his success, and the success of many who come from a design background.

Click the media player above to hear Biz Stone in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio. 

A recession in Russia

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-02 02:00
0.8%

Russia expects its economy to contract by .8%, as reported by the BBC. That's contradictory to previous estimates which projected a 1.2% growth. Some say Russia's reliance on the oil industry played a large part in the sharp revision.

5

The number of Sony Pictures movies leaked online this week, threatening the studio's holiday box office returns. The leak comes just as Sony is recovering from a crippling hack that disabled all of their computers and email accounts. Evidence is pointing to North Korea, the Wall Street Journal reported, which was blamed for a similar hack against South Korea last year, and publicly denounced Sony's Kim Jong-un assassination comedy "The Interview."

45 percent

That's how much Jeep sales grew over the last year. In fact, auto sales in general are on the rise, due in part to the economy being up and gas prices down. Not to mention the fact that many car dealers have jumped on the Black Friday craze.

60 percent

The portion of congressional travel costing less than $100 that was provided by Uber during this year's midterm elections. The company's rider data is a treasure trove for politicians, foreign governments, lawyers and anyone else who could benefit from cyber-espionage. Uber has played fast and loose with access to this data, the Washington Post reported, even giving access to a prospective employee during the interview process.

$90 million

The amount of money that Netflix has spent on its new series Marco Polo, making it one of the most expensive TV series ever made (second only to Game of Thrones). And just like the titular explorer of its new series, Netflix has big global ambitions.

15,000

As small businesses are turning to Amazon-style fulfillment centers to keep up with deliveries during the holidays, Amazon itself has deployed robots. The company bought Kiva Systems for $775 million two years ago, and more than 15,000 of the firm's robots are managing inventory at Amazon warehouses this holiday season, Reuters reported.

What's driving an increase in auto sales?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-02 02:00

New car sales numbers come out on Tuesday. Many expect the holidays to come early for automakers, with the economy up and gas prices down.

Analysts expect Americans bought as many as 1.3 million new vehicles last month, a nice boost over the previous November. That’s in part because more dealers have hopped onto the Black Friday craze.

They’re also selling pricier vehicles, meaning bigger transactions than ever before. Independent consultant Alan Baum says today’s new car buyer is well off.

“Hence not only the increase in sales volume, but the increase in transaction prices, and therefore profits," says Baum. "All of that is of course very good for the car companies.”

Or perhaps we should call them light truck companies. That's where the action is.

“The small crossover SUV market has really skyrocketed, really at the expense of cars,” says Rebecca Caldwell at Edmunds.com. "Light trucks have outsold cars for over a year now.”

A big winner in this space is Jeep. Its sales grew a whopping 45 percent the past year, revving up a broader comeback for parent company Chrysler.

One factor nudging up truck and SUV sales, Caldwell says: low gas prices.

 

 

 

Netflix makes its biggest bet yet on 'Marco Polo'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-12-02 02:00

Netflix has reportedly spent $90 million on its original series Marco Polo, putting it right alongside Game of Thrones as the most expensive TV series ever produced. The epic series is based on the European explorer's journey into China. Polo's story has a lot in common with Netflix's ambitions to grow its global audience particularly in Asia.

Netflix’s growth in the U.S. is slowing. And the potential for new subscribers is now outside the U.S. Marco Polo is a very expensive example of how Netflix is thinking about development.  

"They've got to make sure that the content they have plays in as many territories as possible," says Andrew Wallenstein, co-editor in chief at Variety.

Marco Polo needs to create a big buzz. That could convince foreigners to sign up for a Netflix subscription.

But, says Media analyst Max Dawson, Netflix also has to keep those subscribers month after month: "One way of doing that is by investing in content that will be exclusive to the platform."

For Netflix’s original series, that hasn't always been the case. Even though it owned and created the hit show House of Cards, Netflix didn't own the international rights, and the series aired on competing networks internationally. But with Marco Polo, Netflix owns all the international rights. Dawson thinks the $90 million investment could pay off.

"Or it could be rejected by global viewers who see it for what it is: content being dictated by a corporations’ global expansionist ambitions," says Dawson.

The series will be available for worldwide binging on December 12th.

 

 

 

 

NASA Prepares To Test New Spacecraft (That You've Likely Never Heard Of)

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-02 01:45

The new vehicle, named Orion, is designed to carry humans into deep space. But most Americans aren't aware it exists.

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Obamacare 'Glitch' Puts Subsidies Out Of Reach For Many Families

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-01 23:54

The health care law gives subsidies to those whose employers' insurance isn't affordable, but that's based on the cost of worker-only coverage. Adding family to a plan can send prices out of reach.

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Colorado's Pot Industry Looks To Move Past Stereotypes

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-01 23:52

In the year since Colorado made recreational marijuana legal, pot has become a billion-dollar business in the state. And some growers are on a serious mission to make it legitimate and mainstream.

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Of Carrots And Kids: Healthy School Lunches That Don't Get Tossed

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-01 23:42

The battle over school lunch pits those who want to emphasize nutrition against those who say kids will just throw that food away. We go inside a kitchen where tiny taste testers sway the menu.

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If Everybody Had An Ocean, Could We Surf Our Way To Mental Health?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-01 23:37

The teenager's dad was beating his mom. So the kid fell into a funk. His grades plummeted, he joined a gang, he got into fights. Then he discovered surfing therapy.

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Anthony Marshall, Convicted Of Raiding Mother's Fortune, Dies At 90

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-01 22:18

Anthony Marshall, son of socialite Brooke Astor, was convicted in 2009 of defrauding his mother. Marshall was sentenced to prison but appeals delayed him from serving any time until 2013.

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Ferguson Commission's First Session Disrupted By Outburst

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-01 17:41

After a quiet start, Monday's session was interrupted by residents who were frustrated by the long wait for them to be heard.

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U.K. Security Experts Worried About Terror Attack Around Christmas

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-01 15:43

Counter-terrorism officials in the U.S. and the United Kingdom have discussed an outright ban on hand-carried luggage aboard airplanes in the wake of reports of a possible attack.

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