National News

NBA Weighs Penalties After Sterling's Alleged Race Remarks Surface

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:35

Controversy is swirling around racist comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The NBA is exploring its potential responses as it investigates the allegations.

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Back From Recess, Congress Opens With Scandal

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:29

Monday was a rough day for House Speaker John Boehner: One of his members was indicted on federal charges, and another announced he wouldn't seek re-election after an alleged affair.

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Border towns hit hard as fewer migrants cross

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:26

The rain pours down in the Northern Mexican town of Altar, as local priest Padre Prisciliano Peraza drives down a bumpy dirt road. The road leads to the border town of Sasabe, some 60 miles away. 

Peraza has been the priest here in Altar, Sonora for a decade. In that period, this small town boomed as a staging area for migrants preparing to cross the border. But now it appears on the verge of a bust.

Fewer migrants are trying to sneak across Arizona’s border these days. And that means some towns on the Mexican side that rely on the smuggling economy have been hit hard. Local businesses sprouted up to feed, house and sell supplies to migrants on their way up to the Arizona desert.

Peraza says among those entrepreneurial endeavors are van businesses that drive migrants on this very road.

“They use old vans, and have taken out the seats so they can fit more people,” Peraza says in Spanish.

Much of this business is controlled by organized crime.

But migration from Mexico has been on a downward trend for the last several years, as smuggling routes have changed. 

For the first time in 16 years, the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson sector – which covers Southern Arizona – lost its designation as the busiest place to catch migrants last year.

It was surpassed by Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where agents made almost 155,000 apprehensions last year, a 58 percent uptick from the year before. The Border Patrol’s Tucson sector made 120,939 apprehensions last year, down from 491,771 ten years ago.

“Before, many more people used to come through here,” says local pharmacist Maria Jaime Peña in Spanish. She has been selling migrants items like caffeine pills and electrolyte packets for years.

Altar’s local government estimates that four years ago, several thousand migrants passed through a day. Now? A couple hundred.

“There’s a lot of Central Americans,” Jaime Peña says of the migrants she’s seen lately. “And I’ve seen women some come through with their babies.”

Those are the same recent trends the Border Patrol has reported, too.

About two thirds of Altar’s restaurants and half the convenience stores have closed in the past four years, according to estimates from the local government.

Still, Jaime Peña’s store shows some evidence of the force behind the migrant economy. Like the gallon-size black water jugs she sells for about a dollar.

She says when migrants used the regular clear water jugs they reflected in the moonlight, and made it easier for Border Patrol to spot them. And voila – a business opportunity was born. A local water bottling company came out with a black water jug and that is what most migrants use, Jaime Peña says.

But now that bottling company says it has had to diversify its clientele.

On the outskirts of Altar, local families gather to celebrate a quinceañera, a girl's 15th birthday. A band plays in spite of the rain. Many here are worried about the town’s future.

“It’s as if we’re waiting adrift for something miraculous to happen,” says Juan José Corona Moreno, a doctor at the party. “And really if we as citizens don’t do something, this isn’t going to change.”

Corona Moreno thinks the town should return to its roots in ranching and agriculture.

The local government is trying to recruit a maquiladora to provide manufacturing jobs.

That could be the only chance for new employment here, unless another wave of migration picks up.

In the NBA, power lies with owner-franchisees

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:08
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 16:05 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Team owner Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers watches the San Antonio Spurs play against the Memphis Grizzlies during Game One of the Western Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 19, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas.

As an NBA owner, Donald Sterling is a franchisee, but his influence is far greater than that of his counterparts in, for example, the fast food business. 

Typically, in a franchisor-franchisee relationship, it is the franchisor that holds most of the power. Jill Pilgrim, a sports attorney and business consultant, says sports franchises like the NBA "do a little twist on that general concept." In the case of the NBA, Pilgrim explains, team owners decided collectively to coordinate their business operations. 

"The owners are like members of a club," Pilgrim said. "They are a club who have a common business interest in the development of sports, but also revenue generation."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will use the NBA's bylaws and constitution to determine if - and how - Sterling is to be punished. Those documents aren't public, but Jill Pilgrim says the constitution probably includes a morals clause that forbids an owner from doing anything that might hurt revenue. 

"There is no doubt," Pilgrim said, "however that provision is worded, that this has definitely hurt the brand of the NBA." 

If an investigation shows the tapes to be authentic, Sterling could face at least a fine, and, at most, a suspension.

"A fine would likely be $500,000 or a million dollars," said Michael McCann, director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. "That would be a significant move for many, but Donald Sterling is reportedly worth $1.9 billion, so a fine of $1 million...wouldn't send as strong a signal as the NBA likely wants to send."

If Sterling is suspended, McCann said, the owner would be prevented from having any contact with Clippers players or coaching staff. "It would really be like a restraining order from his own team," McCann said. "And the thinking is that during that time he would try to sell the team."

That the 30 NBA owners, including Sterling, appoint the commissioner who is charged with investigating and handing down punishment, raises questions about just how independent Silver can be.

Gabe Feldman, director of the Sports Law Program at Tulane Law School, says NBA owners make a tremendous financial investments in their teams, and those investments appreciate over time.

"Even if the other 29 owners here are unhappy with what Donald Sterling has said, and how it impacts the value of their franchise," said Feldman, "they don't want, down the road, someone to say, 'well, we don't like what you said, so we're going to take your franchise from you.'"

Marketplace for Monday April 28, 2014What if you found out your boss made racist remarks?CarMax, Virgin Air, others abandon Clippers' shipby Noel KingPodcast Title In NBA, power lies with owner-franchisees Story Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

If We'd Only Known About The Impending Spam

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:01

Twenty years ago, NPR alerted staff members that they would soon have access to a new form of communication: "A collection of computer networks that is connected around the world."

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New York Rep. Michael Grimm Indicted On 20 Counts

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

Rep. Michael Grimm of New York turned himself in to face federal charges related to a health food restaurant he ran before he was elected to Congress. The Republican congressman says he's innocent and plans to run for re-election this fall, but Democrats have have high hopes of flipping the last GOP-held seat in New York City.

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Free Speech In Focus During High Court's Case On Public Employee

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

The Supreme Court Monday considers the free speech rights of public employees who expose government corruption. In the case at hand, a former community college official says he was fired for testifying against an Alabama state legislator at a criminal fraud trial.

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On Cusp Of Third Term, Could Iraqi President Be A New Dictator?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

In the first national election since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is the frontrunner for a third term in office. Despite criticism for mistreating the opposition and minority Sunnis, many say he's the man needed for Iraq's brutal situation.

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Obama Bolsters Philippines, With One Eye On China

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

President Obama is in the Philippines on the last leg of a trip through Asia. The U.S. and the Philippines just signed an agreement to allow more American troops to rotate through the archipelago.

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On Second Day Of Mass Trial, Egyptian Judge Sentences 683 To Death

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

An Egyptian judge sentenced hundreds of people to death Monday, including the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is the judge's second mass-sentencing in recent weeks.

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Out Of North Korea, A Sexist Rant Against South's President

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

In a message from its state news agency, North Korea called South Korea's president a "crafty prostitute" to her "pimp," President Obama. The verbal assault followed Obama's trip to South Korea.

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Tornados Ravage Midwest, Leaving Over A Dozen Dead

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

One of the first tornados of the year wreaked havoc in the northern suburbs of Little Rock, Ark. As Michael Hibblen of Little Rock's KUAR reports, more than a dozen people have died.

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On The Sanctions List: Russia's 'Darth Vader,' Among Others

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

David J. Kramer, the president of Freedom House, talks about two of the Russian oligarchs who have been targeted for sanctions by the Obama administration.

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Washington Levels New Sanctions At Russia, Pulls Some Punches

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

In response to events in Ukraine, the Treasury Department added sanctions on seven Russian officials and 17 companies. The Obama administration has refrained from targeting whole sectors of the Russian economy and is going out of its way to proceed as part of a coalition in part to avoid an 20th century Cold War stand off.

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Marchers And Mayhem In Eastern Ukraine City Roiled By Protests

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:00

A pro-Ukrainian demonstration turned violent as hundreds of Ukrainians in the eastern city of Donetsk marched in support of keeping their country whole. They were opposed by pro-Russian protesters. Stun grenades were thrown into the crowd, and at least one person was wounded.

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If your company ID badge was a tracking device...

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 11:48

What if your company ID badge was a tracking device? You'd wear it from the moment you got to work in the morning til you clocked out at night. Your badge would constantly collect data that could potentially benefit you and the whole company.

Great news: It exists.

A company called Sociometric Solutions has developed this technology. They insert microphones, Bluetooth, and other proximity sensors into an employee’s company ID badge. So far, they've had a 90 percent participation rate in every rollout they've done.  

"What we’re trying to do is really quantify what people have always felt to be unquantifiable," says Ben Waber, President and CEO of Sociometric Solutions. "Things like, how are people interacting with each other? How do you talk to customers? How engaged are you in a conversation? And how is information flowing in an organization?"

How does Sociometric Solutions get workers to agree to participate in the research process?

“[We] don’t just come into a company and say, 'Here everybody, wear this sensor.' It's actually about a four week rollout process," says Waber. "We give people consent forms, which show them the actual database tables of what we collect."

Naturally, participants have had privacy concerns. But Waber tells them not to worry: "We won’t share your individual data with your company. We don't even keep your name in the database where we are calculating all the features."

Drowning in debt? Consider a restructuring

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 11:36
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 12:22

The word restructuring sounds intimidating. In construction terms, it usually means something expensive, like tearing down, or renovating. But restructuring your debt doesn't have to be expensive or overly difficulty.

In fact, whether you're an individual or a corporation, it's supposed to save you money.

One of the reasons restructuring sounds so scary is because it's often associated with bankruptcy. But you don't have to go into bankruptcy to restructure your debt. Lately companies with money problems have increasingly managed to avoid bankruptcy -- and that's creating big issues for attorneys.

This week, a Los Angeles bankruptcy law firm, Stutman Treister & Glatt, announced it's closing its doors. Why? Because companies re opting to restructure their debt by refinancing with cheap money, rather than seeking protection from their creditors under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.

In other words, "restructuring" is often as simple as replacing one kind of debt with another. A refinancing is often itself a kind of restructuring, because it replaces the same amount of money owed, but at different terms: so while the principal remains the same, the interest rate may be lower, and the borrower may have to pay the loan back more quickly.

And anyone can get a restructuring: it's just a matter of asking your lender before your situation becomes critical. If you think you might have a problem keeping up your payments in the future, talk to your lender about it, and try to arrange a transition. Because if the situation becomes critical, you may find yourself in default, unable to pay and heading towards bankruptcy. And bankruptcy's bad for everyone.

Except the attorneys.

Paddy Hirsch's Whiteboard blog and video series

by Paddy HirschPodcast Title Drowning in debt? Consider a restructuringStory Type BlogSyndication PMPApp Respond NoVideo podcast URL upload.publicradio.org/marketplace/2014/04/Restructuring%20-H.264%20for%20iPad%20and%20iPhone%204.m4v

Will Jupiter align with Mars?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 11:09

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Tuesday, April 29th:

In Washington, the Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting on interest rates. It's one of eight scheduled over the course of the year.

The Conference Board releases its April Consumer Confidence Index.

46 years ago, in the Age of Aquarius, "Hair" opened on Broadway. Let the sunshine in.

Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst was born on April 29, 1863. He built a media empire and a giant castle which you can tour in San Simeon, California.

And what's the deal with birthdays? Comedian Jerry Seinfeld turns 60.

CarMax, Virgin America, others abandon Clippers' ship

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 11:00

The NBA is still investigating the legitimacy of a recording that appears to show Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks, but action from the corporate world was swift and decisive. Several major sponsors of the Clippers either "paused" or pulled their support from the team.

The used-car retailer CarMax and Virgin America both announced they will cut ties to the Clippers immediately, while insurance company State Farm and the auto maker Kia Motors have suspended their sponsorships. It is difficult to be exact with the numbers on how much each company pays in sponsorship, but it will certainly be a blow to a team that was otherwise having a strong year. 

Listed No. 13 on Forbes' list of NBA team valuations, the Clippers are currently valued at $575 million, though many estimate the team could sell for more than that. It is also worth noting that Sterling bought the team in 1981, when they were based in San Diego, for $12 million.

This is not the first time the Clippers' owner has faced accusations of this nature -- in 2009, Sterling paid a settlement of $2.725 million in a federal housing discrimination case in which he was accused of excluding black and hispanic tenants from renting properties that he owned in Los Angeles.

 

A post mortem for the 'worst video game ever'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 10:54
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 18:00 moparx / Creative Commons

The Atari 2600.

On Saturday, near the New Mexico town of Alamagordo, a group of video game enthusiasts, excavation specialists, and filmmakers started digging a hole in a desert landfill. Why? You may remember some months ago we talked about the legend that in the early 1980s, video game maker Atari secretly dumped tons of video games into a hole in the middle of the desert.

The reasons for this particular move remain a bit of a mystery, but certainly the game maker was in financial trouble. That's in part because of one particular game -- it was based on the movie E.T., and it did poorly. So poorly, in fact, that it's still described as the worst video game in history.

The man who designed Atari's E.T. game is Howard Scott Warshaw. He was there when the video game treasure trove was uncovered. Listen above for the post mortem. 

Marketplace Tech for Monday, April 28, 2014by Ben JohnsonPodcast Title A post mortem for the 'worst video game ever'Story Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No
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