National News

WATCH: Chimps In Uganda Look Both Ways Before Crossing

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 11:25

A 29-month study of chimpanzees in Uganda's Kibale National Park reveals that many have learned a valuable survival skill — to look both ways before crossing a busy highway.

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Why A Blockbuster Of A Trade Deal With Asia Matters

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 11:19

Congress is giving President Obama new powers to help seal the deal on an ambitious Asia-Pacific free trade agreement, a move which angers many Democrats and unions.

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U.N., Oxfam Report At Least 120,000 Displaced In Yemen Fighting

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 11:04

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says estimates for the number of internally displaced persons ranges from 120,000 to 150,000. Separately, Oxfam puts the figure at 121,000.

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Why markets freaked when Bloomberg crashed

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 11:00

Service from the financial data giant Bloomberg cut out Friday morning, just as trading got underway in London, staying out of commission for more than two hours. Bloomberg terminals — which cost $20,000 a year — are a lifeline for workers in the financial industry. Trading in some markets nearly stopped, and the U.K. government actually postponed the sale of a series of bonds.  

In addition to an array of market data and news, many traders use Bloomberg's built-in chat system as a kind of virtual trading pit.

"That messaging system has become a critical lifeline for many people in the industry," says Douglas B. Taylor, a consultant to financial-data companies, including Bloomberg and competitors like Thompson Reuters.

The "network effect" — the fact that so many traders already use Bloomberg this way — is one reason the company has outgrown those competitors, and why it is likely to remain dominant, according to Matt Turck, a partner at First Mark, a venture capital firm.

For traders who use Bloomberg's chat system this way, an outage would be like trying to organize 20 people to go out to dinner, and finding that your phone has stopped working. 

"It’s like being shut out of the rest of the world," Turck says. "Suddenly, there’s no information coming in, and you have nobody to call."  

So during the outage today, a lot of traders just sat around. Some sought solace on Twitter:

[<a href="//storify.com/danweissmann/bloomberg-goes-down-traders-freak-out" target="_blank">View the story "Bloomberg goes down, traders freak out and make jokes" on Storify</a>]

Can Top Slugger Joining Cubs End 106 Years of Sadness?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 10:11

Top prospect Kris Bryant is set to bat fourth against the Padres Friday in his major league debut, bringing with him hope Chicago may someday soon win another championship.

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Yes, You Can Help The World And Make Money At The Same Time

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:35

Entrepreneurs are figuring out ways to make the world better without relying on charity. It's called social entrepreneurship, and its rising stars showed us how it works at a conference in Oxford.

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How to catch a flash sale before it's over

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:01

Whether it's a coupon arriving in your inbox, a time-limited Groupon offer or a tweet alerting you to a right-in-the-moment quickie deal, we've entered an era of instant retail. In other words, flash sales.

Valerie Folkes, marketing professor at USC's Marshall School of Business, says although it may seem counter-intuitive, flash sales can make sense for merchants. Advertising is changing as retailers adapt to new media and younger consumers migrate away from more traditional outlets like TV, commercial radio and newspapers.

A flash sale can entice consumers, make a brand or a restaurant seem exclusive and crowded, or force a potential buyer to stop procrastinating and spend. Take the Groupon example: as the clock ticks down on a deal, the number of buyers climbs. With limited time and limited number of offers, a deal might seem more exclusive. A restaurant might begin to look more popular, and the influx of customers can do a business good.

Folkes notes this short-term satisfaction might not lead to a lasting relationship, but done well, a flash deal can help with brand loyalty. She cites JetBlue, which posts deals that may seem like obvious losses: $32 tickets out of New York City (a deal that only lasted 32 minutes, while it was 32 degrees out) and 90 percent-off sales (on 90 degree days). These sales force customers to act fast, and even though JetBlue might be losing money on some tickets, overall, the sale works as an ad.

"It's kind of a fun idea. It gets people thinking about JetBlue because it reminds people: JetBlue offers all these great deals, I really need to pay attention to Jet Blue, because who knows what they'll next," Folkes says. "What they're really doing here is buying great publicity. They're getting people talking about their airline, and about travel, and if you miss out on this, if you don't actually get on their airplane, you are now thinking about going someplace, and you're thinking about going someplace that JetBlue flies."

But businesses have to be careful not to foster the idea that you should never pay full price. Timing is important, and people buying during a sale should feel that they got lucky. And many people do, especially when they score a great deal that seems like a secret.

George Hobica, head of AirFareWatchdog.com, specializes in secret deals. His company mines flight searchers for the lowest possible fares: the advertised on-sale tickets, the unadvertised super-sale tickets and the blooper fares — mistakes that make flights way, way cheaper than they ever should be.

Getting in on the sweetest deals requires a lot of focus, patience and luck. There are frequently very few seats available and very little time to book. And if you do find out about a deal in time to make a big purchase?

"You really have to jump on it very, very quickly," Hobica says. "What I tell people is put it on a 24 hour hold ... and then talk to your spouses and your friends and get the hotels and get all your ducks in line."

Hobica recommends keeping a vigilant eye on social media and signing up for alerts from sites like AirFareWatchdog, Hopper and Kayak. Even then, it's a little bit like playing musical chairs — except when the music stops, a million people want to sit down.

Syncing club beats with heart beats

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:01

Will Bensussen is an alternative hip hop producer and DJ. You might know him by his nom de clubThe Gaslamp Killer.

After moving to Los Angeles in 2006, he helped found Low End Theory, a weekly experimental hip hop and electronic music club night.

Speed is particularly important to Bensussen. If attend one of his gigs, you might notice that the beats of his music are frequently in sync with the beat of your heart. A healthy human heart beats between 60 and 120 beats per minute, he says.

"I come in so quiet and so weird you don't even know it's starting yet," he says. "I build up from 60 BPM to 100 BPM, to 120 if I'm feeling really frisky. ... I sort my experience using the BPMs. I like to stop whatever party was happening before I showed up and I like to start my own."

His new album, "The Gaslamp Killer Experience," comes out April 28th.

Your Wallet: Invisible money

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:00

The money you hide away: Do you bury it in the back yard? Stuff it in a mattress, or maybe stash it in a 401k?

Tell us where you keep your money! Does it work? We promise, we won't give away any super specific secret hiding places.

Send us an email, or reach us on Twitter @MarketplaceWKND to give us the scoop.

Fast food service pumps the breaks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 09:00

The pace of fast food service has been getting slower as menus grow more complex.

Sam Oches is editor of QSR Magazine, the bible of the fast food industry. He says consumer demand for quality ingredients in fast food is changing the game across the board.

"You even see something like Taco Bell has some menu items that have 10, 11, 12 ingredients, whereas it didn't used to be the case. So in order to be able to put together these menu items, it takes a little bit more time," he says.

A survey by the magazine found that as a result, drive-through service is now about 20 seconds slower on average. But the industry wants to work to both simplify, and kick into a higher gear.

Click the media player above to hear the full story.

TV's 'Sabado Gigante' Will Cease Production This Fall, Ending Record Run

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:34

Sábado Gigante has been a ratings and cultural phenomenon, captivating viewers with a three-hour blend that included amateur talent shows, interviews and music performances.

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Violence Against Immigrants In South Africa Turns Deadly

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 08:09

At least five people have been killed, immigrant-owned businesses have been attacked and thousands have sought refuge at temporary shelters. The government has condemned the violence.

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From "promposal" to dress, everything must be unique

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 07:37

Prom season is in full swing. And if you're thinking to yourself, "That's not a business story," keep reading. 

An amazing statistic from Visa: the average prom-going teen will shell out $919 in preparation this year. With that much at stake, formal wear boutiques are courting as much business as possible away from department stores and online retailers, who have the advantage of endless selection and cheaper prices. 

One strategy they've hit upon: prom dress registries, so that no two girls from the same high school show up to prom in the same gown. 

"I worried about a lot of things as a teenage girl. This was not one of them," said Elizabeth Holmes, senior style reporter for the Wall Street Journal, who recently wrote about prom registries. 

The "OMG, Mom!" sense of embarrassment over a twin-effect at prom is nothing new. Beverly Hills, 90210 had a dramatic spring dance moment back in 1993. 

 

 

To avoid Kelly and Brenda's embarrassment, stores are keeping registries so that each girl has her shining moment on prom night. 

Holmes spoke with one Silicon Valley formal wear boutique that tracks 600 high school proms. 

"They have this massive computerized dress registry where they're tracking who is wearing what, to which prom," she said.

For store owners, it may be uncomfortable to tell an excited teen, "No, you can't have that dress." But particularly in smaller markets, formal boutiques rely on repeat business and hope that customers will see the value. 

Holmes said, it's a "play to the parents," who more often than not are footing the bill for $400 and up gowns. 

"They're dealing with a dramatic teenager and they don't want to have — come prom night — tears if someone else had my dress."

Because prom has always been about the pictures as much as the dance, teens now document everything from the dress-buying experience to their "promposals" through social media. And while boys don't have to worry about suit or tuxedo registries (yet, anyway), Holmes said, they tend to foot the bill for increasingly popular promposals,be they elaborate or goofy. 

 

The State Of The Cancer Nation

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 07:30

The prevalence of smoking and other major cancer risk factors varies widely by state. So does the uptake for preventative screening tests.

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What pushes people up the economic ladder

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-17 07:00

I went to Dayton, Ohio a few weeks ago because I had been reading about just how bad people's chances are of climbing out of poverty there. Dayton is a lovely city in many ways, with a lot of things going for it, but its metro area has one of the worst rates of economic mobility in the country, according to research by a team of Harvard and UC Berkeley economists.

Forty percent of kids who grow up in poverty stay poor as adults.

I met plenty of people around town who were not surprised by this statistic. They had seen or lived it firsthand. But then I met Amira Yousif, who lives with her family in a poor neighborhood on the east end of Dayton. When I asked her if she expected her children to do better than her financially, she said “Absolutely!”

“Especially my oldest son,” she said. “He want to become doctor. Then after he finish he will have a lot of money. Then I have to relax and sit and he pay money for me.”

That's your plan? I asked her.

“Yeah, this is my plan,” she said with a laugh, and seemed to be only half-joking.

Yousif may be naturally optimistic, but she also may also be on to something when it comes to the particular confidence she feels in the face of her city's grim statistics on economic mobility.

That’s because even though her family started with almost nothing when they moved to Dayton five years ago, they did have a few things going for them that make their odds of achieving that proverbial American Dream better than most low-income Daytonians. 

First off, they are immigrants.

“There's a lot of evidence out there that the United States is a pretty good place for immigrants,” says Nathan Hendren, a professor of economics at Harvard who has been studying rates of economic mobility across the U.S. “We know there are decently high rates for social mobility for immigrants— from an immigrants’ perspective it's a place that has always been known as this land of opportunity.”

To understand what can make some immigrants' experiences so different when it comes to “getting ahead” compared to native born low-income Americans, it might help to know a bit more about Yousif and her family.

When I visited their home one afternoon recently, the Yousifs’ two daughters were playing that classic American basketball game “Pig,” in the back alley. From that vantage point out on the street, the Yousifs’ house, a unit in an old two-story bungalow, looked like most of the houses on the street: slightly run-down, with a crumbling set of concrete steps leading up to the porch.

But where some might see signs of poverty, the Yousifs say they feel rich relative to where they started. Amira Yousif was born in Kuwait, the daughter of Palestinian refugees. Her husband is from Iraq. Both fled to Jordan during the Gulf War, where they lived in uncertain immigration status. Life was hard.

“It's hard to find a job. It's hard to feed the family. Everything is expensive,” says Amira Yousif of that time. “Finally my husband said, ‘There is no future for the kids.’”

In Jordan, Amira and her husband lived in a crammed apartment with their four children. Their 13-year-old daughter Malath says compared to that world, their new home in Dayton feels luxurious. “It’s bigger. We have more space.”

The Yousifs’ oldest son, Suhaib, 16, says he feels access to more opportunities in Dayton. “It motivates us to work hard. In Jordan because I was Iraqi, it was different. You wouldn't have scholarships to colleges. You had to pay for tuition. And I wanted to be a doctor. We couldn't afford it down there.”

Still, when the Yousifs came to the U.S. through a United Nations refugee program, they worried about what they were getting into.  Amira says when she found out they had been randomly assigned to Dayton, Ohio, a place she had never heard of, she Googled it.

“I learned that Dayton is a poor city,” she says. “You cannot find jobs — the life is hard there.”

Amira Yousif came to Dayton, Ohio in 2010 with her family through a refugee program.

Krissy Clark/Marketplace

And yet, the moment she stepped off the plane with her family after a 17-hour flight, and walked in to the Dayton airport, her she felt she had been reborn. “You cannot imagine,” she says. “I feel like finally, God sent angel to us to help us.”

The help came in many forms: local church and non-profit groups helped find them a house, helped with the first few months of rent, donated furniture and clothes and appliances.

But even more than the physical support the Yousifs received from various community groups, what may have been more important to their hopes for upward mobility was being tapped in to those groups in the first place. Hendren calls this access to "social capital."

“Social capital you generally can think of that as trust, or measures of civic engagement,” Hendren says. “To what extent do you live in a community as opposed to just a collection of individuals?”

In many cases, research shows that immigrants build special forms of social capital as they connect with other families from their home country, and form cultural and sports and religious organizations together. And all that social capital can help promote upward mobility.

“It could be through role model effects,” Hendren says. “Or through actual connections that a broader community can provide as opposed to just your own parental background.”

Social capital can partly explain why some immigrants are able to climb the economic ladder faster than other low-income people around them. But there's another really important reason why families like the Yousifs have higher rates of economic mobility.

Amira and her husband may have been arrived in Dayton with almost nothing. But the family did have one key thing: education. Amira's husband was trained as an engineer. Amira has a degree in computer programming. At first, that didn't seem to matter in Dayton. After applying for dozens of jobs that matched their qualifications, they both ended up with relatively low-paying jobs in a college cafeteria. The husband worked as a cook. Amira’s job was to wash dishes and wipe tables.

At least at first.

But when I go to visit her at that same cafeteria where she has now worked for five years, her name tag reads “Production Manager.” Partly because she had so many untapped skills, she was quickly promoted.

People often look to immigrant success stories like the Yousifs and ask, if they can climb out of poverty so quickly, why can't anyone?

But Hendren says their story of upward mobility — like those of many immigrants who arrived in the U.S. through legal channels — comes with caveats.

“You do not necessarily want to compare them to the next below-income family,” Hendren says. “There’s a lot of things that are potentially different. They have a very highly educated background.”

All that aside, for Amira Yousif and her family, coming to this country was like coming to a place where, she says, “your dream becomes real.”

With good grades and a college scholarship, their oldest son could have a pretty good shot at becoming a doctor. And once she finishes the night classes she's taking, Amira might be able to start teaching again.

Former Top Saddam Lieutenant Reportedly Killed By Iraqi Forces

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 06:59

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is the "king of clubs" in a pack of cards issued to U.S. troops to help them identify Iraqi officials. He is also thought to have been instrumental in the sudden rise of ISIS.

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Addiction In American History: 14 Vivid Graphs

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 06:30

How certain words related to addictive behavior have shifted over the centuries — in 14 colorful charts.

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Top Hospital Ratings Prove Scarce In Medicare's Latest Tally

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 06:27

Only 7 percent of the nation's hospitals assessed by Medicare were good enough to win 5-star ratings. The government used patient reviews to come up with the grades.

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ESPN Suspends Reporter Over Rant Recorded By Towing Company

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 05:53

A string of insults aimed at a woman who works at a towing company were recorded by a surveillance camera. Now they've come back to sting sports reporter Britt McHenry.

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Pope 'Considering' Cuba Visit, Vatican Says

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-17 05:37

The Holy See is in talks for Francis to make a trip to the island-nation in September. The pontiff helped forge a breakthrough in relations between Havana and Washington.

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