National News

Butterfinger + peanut butter cups: Should candies mix?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 09:00

As busy, thorough, and of course, highly conscientious journalists, we were concerned. We'd raised the question "Can Butterfinger take on the peanut butter cup?"  - but left the investigation incomplete.

To protect the good name of public media, there was only one thing to do. And it wasn't going to be easy.

We took our fake Butterfinger cups to the denizens of the American Public Media/Marketplace offices with the question: What actually happens when Butterfinger meets Reese's?

Rico Gagliano, host of the Dinner Party Download, didn't really care, so long as he got free candy:

Marketplace Sustainability Desk reporters Adriene Hill and David Weinberg decided it was a question of proportions:

Wealth & Poverty Desk reporter Noel King responded with pure disgust to the entire enterprise.

Wealth & Poverty producer John Ketchum had no such scruples:

And editor John Haas may just be the target market:

But engineer Brendan Willard comes out strongest for the candy combo. He prefers "both together to either individually."

The final verdict? It really shouldn't be this difficult to give your coworkers free candy. 

Qualcomm snaps up patents

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 08:54

Qualcomm, the U.S. mobile chip maker, has bought close to 2,000 patents from Hewlett Packard. Many of the U.S. and foreign patents relate to former smart phone maker Palm. (Remember them?) These days Palm's patents are a bit like hot potatoes -- HP bought Palm in 2010 to get into the mobile device game. The company appears to have lost that game and is now selling. So what does Qualcomm want with Palm? Avi Greengart, research director at Current Analysis, tells Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson. 

PODCAST: The legal marijuana industry's banking problem

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 08:52

Several states have legalized marijuana, even though the federal government still considers it an illegal drug. Well, a problem is banks are reluctant -- in most cases unwilling -- to do business with the marijuana industry.

When you think of the 21st century American economy, your mind no doubt flips to things digital and mobile. But corporate earnings out this week were a good reminder that an industry that sounds more 19th century is key to the modern economy as well -- railroads.   

Less than five months before Brazil's World Cup kicks off, 6 out of 12 venues are still unfinished -- including a complex in the northern city of Manaus, where construction workers have died and pay for laborers is an issue.

Marijuana, gambling, lotto tickets: Cash only

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 08:34

Convenience is king. We pay for our coffee with an app and swipe our plastic to buy a pack of gum or to book a trip to Rio. But there's a reason why wads of greenbacks are still exchanged for goods or services. Do you really want your credit card issuer to leave a paper trail on that stuff you did in Vegas? (Don't worry, it stays in Vegas.)

Card issuers agree, but for their own reasons, usually having to do with risk and federal law. This week brought "10 Things You Can't Buy with a Credit Card" from MarketWatch.

Sure, marijuana is now legal in Colorado — and other states might soon follow — but you're going to need green to purchase this green. The government is hinting that federal law is catching up to legal marijuana purchases, but you'd better bet that credit card issuers are not going to step into the middle of this one until the rules are clear.

Legality on other credit card no-no's is more grey; when it comes to gambling or paying for lotto tickets, much depends on state laws.

Online gambling with cards is clearly illegal in the U.S. — hence Swiss accounts and Bitcoin — but after avoiding trouble with the law, card issuers then turn on, or off, the spigot of credit much more on the basis of risk. For example, you probably can't pay for your mortgage, your student loans, your auto loan or even in some cases your college tuition, with a credit card (though, imagine those reward points!). It's simply not good business practice to enable paying one debt with another form of debt.

Then again, those balance transfer checks you receive in the mail aren't necessarily considered credit. The biggest dangers with these card-linked checks are the high interest rate, fees from the card issuer and turning an asset-backed loan (like a car loan) into unsecured debt.

My favorite star of this list however, is good ol' outlier American Express. They refuse to process payments for online pornography, lotto tickets (no matter the state law), and contributions to Wikileaks. This swipe-for-this-not-that has a long history. Twenty years ago when I worked at Christie's auction house, I remember a kerfuffle at the highest level when a high-rolling buyer tried to pay for a painting with his American Express card. His winning bid was over $1 million. AmEx's reward-points system was already in place and their charging limits were (and still can be) undefined.

Can you blame the guy?

Check, please.

U.N. Says Authorities, Locals In Myanmar Killed Dozens Of Muslims

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 08:22

The government has denied the massacre ever happened. Now, the U.N. is asking for an investigation.

» E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us

Ukraine Protests Spread, But 'Fragile Truce' Holds In Kiev

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 07:57

In several cities now, demonstrators are in the streets protesting corruption and demanding that President Viktor Yanukovich schedule new elections.

» E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us

As Windows XP Fades Away, Will Its Users Stick With Microsoft?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 07:48

Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP in April. But the company faces a challenge as it herds its users away from the 12-year-old operating system: With so many computing options on the market, customers leaving XP behind might end up turning their backs to Microsoft, too.

» E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us

An economic storm in Argentina

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 07:27

It's been a dizzying 24 hours in Argentina. The peso plummeted 19 percent versus the U.S. dollar. It seems to be stabilized this morning at 7.9, down more than 8 percent from a day ago. The incident is a reminder of the economic turbulence in Argentina a little over a decade ago, with the currency swings that came the country defaulted on its debts. Click the audio player above to hear the BBC's Andrew Walker discuss the story.

Dry January: Giving Up Booze For A Month Does Have Benefits

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 07:15

For regular drinkers, the New Year's resolution tradition may involve what's known as a dry January: giving up booze for a month. But could such a short-term breakup with alcohol really impart any measurable health benefits? A small but intriguing study suggests yes.

» E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us

Dry January: Giving Up Booze For A Month Does Have Benefits

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 07:15

For regular drinkers, the New Year's resolution tradition may involve what's known as a dry January: giving up booze for a month. But could such a short-term breakup with alcohol really impart any measurable health benefits? A small but intriguing study suggests yes.

» E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us

Nadal Sweeps Federer To Advance To Australian Open Final

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 07:02

Spain's Rafael Nadal reaches his third Australian Open championship after defeating his longtime Swiss rival 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3 Friday in Melbourne. Nadal faces Stan Wawrinka in the final.

» E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us

5 months before the World Cup, half the venues aren't finished

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 06:27

Less than five months before Brazil's World Cup kicks off, 6 out of 12 venues are still unfinished -- including a complex in the northern city of Manaus, where construction workers have died and pay for laborers is an issue. Fifa has warned Brazil's World Cup 2014 host city of Curitiba that it could be excluded unless work speeds up. The BBC's Wyre Davies visited the sites of some of the World Cup facilities in Manaus. Click the audio player above to listen to the story.

Banks don't want to hold marijuana industry's stash

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 06:17

Several states have legalized marijuana, even though the federal government still considers it an illegal drug. Well, a problem is banks are reluctant -- in most cases unwilling -- to do business with the marijuana industry.

Banks worry doing that could subject them to prosecution from the feds, for racketeering or money laundering or aiding and abetting criminal activity.

"The banks have come to the conclusion that the risks are just too great," says Robert Rowe, senior counsel for the American Bankers Association. "Marijuana is still illegal as far as federal law is concerned, and banks are subject to federal law."

Not having access to banks is hard for growers and dispensaries in states where pot is legal.

"You know, it is hard to buy things, it is hard to pay your employees, it is hard to really go about business," says Bill Piper, with the Drug Policy Alliance.

On top of that, it isn't safe when all your business is done in cash. Attorney Genreal Eric Holder made that point yesterday, at an event at the University of Virginia. He said the government is working on new guidance. Dan Riffle, with the Marijuana Policy Project, hopes it will be comprehensive.

"Well, there is a big legal distinction -- for banks, especially, between we're not going to prosecute this crime and we don't consider this a crime."

After all, the Justice Department could reverse a decision not to prosecute banks at any time.

President Boehner? Not If That Rules Out Wine And Cigarettes

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 06:15

The House speaker used a rare appearance on late-night TV to joke about why he won't be running for the White House, and to make some more serious predictions about this year's elections.

» E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us

At Least 3 People Killed In 40-Vehicle Pileup In Indiana

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:58

More than 20 others were injured in the massive accident along a snowy stretch of Interstate 94 about 60 miles east of Chicago.

» E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us

Railroads' earnings -- and their freight -- show where the economy's heading

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:51

When you think of the 21st century American economy, your mind no doubt flips to things digital and mobile. But corporate earnings out this week were a good reminder that an industry that sounds more 19th century is key to the modern economy as well -- railroads.   

For years now, railroads have been smartly and quietly upgrading infrastructure and increasing market share. The days when trains carried grain and coal aren’t over, but they carry a lot more now, too. “They carry just about everything that’s in your house to the materials that built your house,” says Anthony Hatch, head of ABH Consulting in New York. 

For that reason, railroad freight can provide a window on the overall economy. Take Union Pacific’s latest quarterly report. It reported its coal carloads dropped 10 percent, a dip that reflects a broader trend in the economy -- the slow but steady shift to natural gas.   

But the railroad companies are carrying more cars, lumber and piping, which hints at recent growth in auto sales, home construction and fracking. Lee Klaskow, a Bloomberg Industries transportation and logistics analyst, says railroads are playing a key role in the shale boom, “whether they’re hauling crude out or hauling chemicals and sand and water and piping into the places where they’re doing hydraulic fracturing.”

Anthony Hatch says all that hydraulic fracturing will make for more products made from the natural gas they’re drilling in the fracking fields -- plastic wrap and anti-freeze, just to name a couple. Those products will ultimately fill rail cars, too.

 

Happy Birthday, Apple Macintosh, on your 30th

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:40

Apple celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of the Macintosh computer on Saturday, Jan. 25, in Cupertino, California. The unveiling of the Mac to the world by Steve Jobs on Jan. 24, 1984 -- also in Cupertino -- was Apple’s most successful product launch to date, as Apple took on IBM’s domination of the fast-growing market for personal computers.

After the Mac was launched, Apple did well, then not so well in the ‘90s (Steve Jobs had been ousted from the company in 1985). Then he came back in 1996, when Apple bought his company, NeXT, and by the early 2000s Apple was doing well again, revolutionizing the personal computing world with the iTunes store, and iPods, and eventually iPhones and iPads.

Apple’s public pre-launch of the Mac came during SuperBowl XVIII on January 22, 1984 (the L.A. Raiders trounced the Washington Redskins, 38 to 9). A dramatic ad directed by Ridley Scott for the Macintosh ran during the game.

An army of grey robot-men march through prison-like corridors to an assembly area, as a Big Brother figure drones at them from a huge screen about conformity and power. Enter a female runner -- in color, representing Apple -- pursued by helmeted riot police. She runs before them, past the oblivious robot-men, turns once, twice, three times, and hurls a sledgehammer into the screen, smashing Big Brother, unleashing air and light, waking the robots from their authoritarian trance, and ushering in the Age of Macintosh.

“That day the earth’s axis shifted a little bit,” says Guy Kawasaki with a small laugh. At the time, Kawasaki was the Apple Macintosh division’s software evangelist. He was there two days after the Superbowl ad aired, when Steve Jobs unveiled the Macintosh.

“It represented an entirely new way of interacting with computers and accessing information,” says Kawasaki. “This was your computer, and you could do what you wanted with it.”

Technology writer John Battelle was an early adopter and covered Apple for MacWeek; he went on to cofound Wired and The Industry Standard (he’s now CEO of Federated Media). He says Mac’s graphical user interface -- clicking and dragging the mouse across screen displays -- made the personal computer something everyone could use.

“Simply put—you saw yourself mirrored in that machine,” says Battelle. “What you did was directly reflected in the interface of that machine. When you moved your hand, something moved on the machine. The WYSIWYG -- ‘what you see is what you get’ -- interface was magical, and it began a journey of our society into becoming digital and understanding what it means to be data.”

That first post-apocalyptic Mac ad ended with an announcer saying these words as they scrolled down the screen: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’”

The beige Macintosh personal computer that Steve Jobs described as being ‘for the rest of us’ -- the one that he believed would unseat IBM’s dominance of the market, and change the world -- had arrived.

Listen to an extended interview with Guy Kawasaki here:

What other technology was "born" in 1984? According to this timeline:
  • The Olivetti PC
  • Flash memory
  • 3D printing
  • The first portable computer (weighing in at 30 lbs)
  • The first desktop laser printer
  • Tetris!

Great Wall of Wyoming? This week's Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:22

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

This week, Kara Swisher, formerly of All Things D, currently co-executive editor with Walt Mossberg of the new tech news and reviews website Re/Code, takes on the tech gauntlet in our weekly Silicon Tally quiz. Play along at home, below.

var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-pop-quiz-18", placeholder: "pd_1390524219" } ); (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'));

30 Elderly Residents Still Missing After Fire In Quebec

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:13

The blaze at a complex that housed the elderly quickly engulfed much of the building. Investigators were having a hard time searching for victims because water used to fight the flames had frozen over the scene. A key question: Why was the complex only partially fitted with sprinklers?

» E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us

Strutting in style at the Grammys doesn't come cheap

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:05

Singer, actress, and model Colette Falla moved to Los Angeles five years ago, and is used to the ups and downs that accompany life as an emerging artist in a city chock-full of emerging artists.  She’s also used to the expense that her career incurs. 

“When I was a kid I had singing lessons and piano lessons,” Falla said. “I did summer workshops for acting. Then, I went to university and and a course which was theater studies and English.” There was also private vocal coaching and music school in LA. These days, she shells out for studio time, PR, and U-Haul vans to get her to gigs.

So while being invited to an awards show is an honor, it’s not necessarily an excuse to splurge. Falla gets her hair styled at the popular but inexpensive Blow Dry Bar, opts for makeovers at the MAC store (free with a purchase) and even tries to save money on clothes.

“I can wear something simple like a little black dress,” Falla said. “Every girl has one in her closet.” Asked if she ever feels intimidated at events where A-list stars are wearing one-of-a-kind gowns, Falla, always good-natured, laughs.

“I think I get a secret boost out of being like, ‘my dress is from Forever 21,’” she said.

Colette’s wardrobe stylist Catherine Joubert is living her own kind of Hollywood dream. After years working for big movie studios, she struck out on her own, following her passion for fashion. Joubert says the competition in LA can be fierce, but she stays focused and has no trouble making a living. She admits that every stylist dreams of taking on a young client who becomes a superstar. That’s why she’s sometimes willing to reduce her hundred-dollar-per-hour fee.

“In LA, anything can happen,” Joubert said. “You can be working with a fresh, new, young face. And they might land a big role on a TV series and all of a sudden, they take you with them.”

Joubert’s philosophy is that no matter how broke the struggling artist, there is no excuse to look like anything other than a million bucks. For clients with more aspirations than cash, she’ll search department stores for something stunning and, hopefully, on sale.

“A singer’s going to take singing lessons,” Joubert said. “Actors will take workshops. It’s important to think about investing in your image as much as the other parts of your career.”

Days before the Grammys Colette Falla was still hoping to snag an invitation.

“’Im in a relationship with a really successful songwriter/producer,” she said. “He might get an invite and I could be his plus one, which would be great for me.”

She paused a second, apparently realizing how such a statement could be interpreted in a land of vaulting ambition. “I’m not in it for that,” she said with a laugh. “He’s my boyfriend. I love him.”

KBBI is Powered by Active Listeners like You

As we celebrate 35 years of broadcasting, we look ahead to technology improvements and the changing landscape of public radio.

Support the voices, music, information, and ideas that add so much to your life. Renew here or visit KBBI by April 21 to enter to win one round-trip airfare with Era between Homer and Anchorage. Thank you for supporting your local public radio station.

ON THE AIR

FOLLOW US

Drupal theme by pixeljets.com ver.1.4