National News

CIA Announces Plans To End Fake Vaccination Programs

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 12:24

The phony vaccination programs were used in its spy operations abroad. The decision comes after leaders from U.S. public health schools brought the practice to light.

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Voters Go To Polls On Primary Season's Busiest Day Yet

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 12:24

In a day packed full of primaries, voters headed to the polls in six states — including three that are expected to have highly competitive Senate races.

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Minnesota Selected As Host Of Super Bowl LII

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 11:51

The NFL continued its tradition of awarding the big game to teams with newly-built stadiums.

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Global Temperatures Tied Record High Last Month

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 11:14

Warmer weather in Australia and Siberia helped make last month the hottest April on record, tying levels last seen in 2010. Climate change may be putting landmarks like the Statue of Liberty at risk.

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Coup Or Not, It's Business As Usual For Most Thais

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 11:08

After the army declared martial law, on the streets of Bangkok, it's mostly soldiers and selfies.

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How much would an all-American iPhone cost?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-20 11:02

How much would an iPhone cost if it were entirely made in the U.S.?

At the moment, the iPhone 5 costs between $650 - $850 retail.

iPhones are mostly manufactured and assembled in China, famously by the company Foxconn. And Apple pays around $5 per iPhone for labor.

"It largely costs more for people to manufacture products in the U.S. because of higher labor costs," says Carl Howe, Vice President of data sciences at the Yankee Group. "Labor costs here are somewhere in the vicinity of two to three times what they’re going to be in China."

Now our iPhone (the cheapest model) will cost $660, but labor’s not the most significant financial advantage to manufacturing the iPhone in China, where Apple has been able to create enormous iPhone-assembling villages.

"They have these special regions, like Shenzhen, which is an industrial region," explains Rene Ritchie, editor-in-chief of iMore, a publication about Apple products. "Anything you need is just a couple of buildings away, and the ability to keep everything so close together has incredible logistic advantages for Apple."

Ritchie says it would be almost impossible to re-create that in the U.S., which would mean longer assembly times, less efficient assembly and lots of micro-shipments.

"It’s an incredibly complicated process to build one of these devices and you’d have to move that entire culture of production to the U.S. in order for it to work," says Ritchie.

And then there are the parts themselves…

"For almost every component that goes into the device, there may be as many as two or three sources," says Andrew Rassweilier, Senior Director of Materials and Cost Benchmarking at IHS technology. "Then if you were to dig down another layer into some of the components, such as the display, the touch screen, the batteries. Those are also assemblies that are comprised of multiple components coming from, potentially, multiple counties."

IHS broke down the cost of the iPhone’s components and found they add up to around $190 per phone. 

The most expensive part of the phone is the display, which costs about $40. Making the display in the U.S. would roughly triple its cost, according to Rassweilier. That alone would add around $80 to the price of the iPhone

That brings our iPhone to $740.

Rassweiler says making all of the iPhone’s parts in the U.S. would push the price of the iPhone’s components from $190 to around $600.

"If the materials alone are costing $600," says Rassweilier, "it stands to reason, that same iPhone could cost, perhaps, $2,000 at retail."

That's right. $2,000 for an iPhone.

And it wouldn’t even earn political goodwill from most of its customers.

 

Screenshot: "Inequality For All"/Radius/TWC

The U.S. only brings in 6 percent of profits from iPhone sales, according to "Inequality for All". 

"Two out of three Apple customers aren’t in the USA anymore," says the Yankee Group’s Carl Howe. "That’s quite a change from many years ago when most of Apple’s customers were in the US."

 It’s just as well, says Howe. Even with overseas cost efficiencies, the iPhone is one of the costliest phones on the market.

 

Two years ago, Marketplace's Shanghai Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz was only the second reporter ever to gain access to visit the factory floor at Foxconn. He took a tour of the assembly line and the Foxconn campus to see what living and working conditions were like for the hundreds of thousands of workers there:

Divide, Google's latest buy, hardens Android security

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-20 11:02

A deal leading from Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley: Google is buying New York-based enterprise software company Divide for an undisclosed sum. Divide provides mobile device management technology—tools to keep business data separate and secure on smartphones and tablets. The company also provides productivity tools for people to work and collaborate on mobile devices.

The move is designed to drive more business for Google’s Android devices among companies concerned about security. 

Increasingly, people use their mobile devices for work and personal life interchangeably. Many employees are expected to access work data when they're at home or on the road, and people want to be able to use the mobile device of their choice, one which also holds personal email, photos, games and the like.

“If you download a tic-tac-toe game off the Google playstore,” says Tyler Shields, a mobile-security expert at Forrester Research, and it’s loaded with malware, “once you run it on your phone, it could grab all your contacts or all your calendars.” Shields says that might include some of your employer’s contacts and calendars, or confidential information like blueprints or business plans that you’ve been working on.

Technology analyst Crawford Del Prete at research firm IDC says of the acquisition of Divide: “This move by Google is to say: ‘We are hardening the Android experience. We are going to give you more control as an enterprise, to have a secure container and a secure place for your corporate data.’”

Del Prete says Google is wise to make this move, because there’s a perception in the marketplace—among IT professionals, business managers, and consumers—that competing devices and apps from Apple are more secure and less easily hacked.

How many devices (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer) did you have for work and play in 2004? 2009? Today? Tell us in the comments below, or get in touch via Twitter and Facebook.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania's Ban On Gay Marriage

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 10:41

The ruling comes a day after another federal judge ruled Oregon's ban on gay marriage violated the constitution. Pennsylvania passed the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 1996.

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Led Zeppelin Sued Over 'Stairway To Heaven' Guitar Line

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 10:33

Did a band from Los Angeles get ripped off by Led Zeppelin? That's the claim made in a new lawsuit by representatives of the band Spirit, which played some dates with the British rock legends.

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North Carolina Union Seeks To Enlist College Athletes

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 10:26

The move comes two months after a National Labor Relations Board ruling that athletes at Northwestern University are school employees and therefore are entitled to form a union.

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Eating out? Leave a big tip

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-20 10:05

From the Marketplace Datebook, here’s a look at what’s coming up Wednesday, May 21:

In Washington, the United States Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy will hold a hearing about Strengthening Social Security to Meet the Needs of Tomorrow’s Retirees.

President Obama will welcome the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks to the White House to honor the team and their Super Bowl XLVIII victory.

Brought to you by the letters U - S and O. Sesame Street’s Elmo and Friends will roll onto Capitol Hill in their Sesame Street/USO tour bus to attend the bi-annual USO Service Project event.

Thinking about a dinner date? Keep in mind that it’s National Wait Staff Day! Win over your server and your date with a large tip!

25 Years On, Mothers Of Tiananmen Square Dead Seek Answers

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 09:36

A bullet to the head killed Zhang Xianling's son near Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Since then, she has led a group demanding the truth and accountability for those deaths.

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Poll: Yes To Medical Marijuana, Not So Much For Recreational Pot

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 09:24

Almost half the states have passed laws easing access to marijuana for medical or recreational use. But most Americans have reservations, especially when it comes to access by young people.

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Meet Happy! The unsettling new Happy Meal mascot

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-20 09:14

One thing that has fascinated me for a long time is how huge, multi-billion dollar companies can make really obvious mistakes, mistakes that even a child could see.

Do people lose touch with the hoi polloi when they've been enjoying the perks of the executive cafeteria for too long?

Is it a product of the 'yes man' corporate culture, where some out-of-touch CEO has a shower epiphany which rips unchecked through vice presidents, middle managers, and teams of consultants to be broadcast nationwide?

Take what happened today: I'm looking at a photo of one of the biggest, most expensive branding decisions McDonald's has made in a long time. Happy, the new mascot of the Happy Meal.

This is an updated version of the old mascot, which was a Happy Meal box with a yellow smile drawn on it. Simple. Classic. Totally solid mascot. It seems logical, obvious, even, to give that old tried-and-true mascot an update. Bring it to life: add arms, legs and a face. What could possibly go wrong?

Crazy Eyes. That's what.

Happy looks crazy. Not evil, serial killer-crazy (which would actually, I think, be better) or even evil genius crazy... it's a desperate, deeply-needy, sad kind of crazy.

Happy's eyes say: "Hi! I'm Happy! Will you be my friend? Please? I have a lot of trouble reading social cues! Oh my God, I'm so lonely!"

Happy has the kind of expression on his face that you sometimes see on an internet date or a person you are sitting next to on a transatlantic flight. The kind of expression the person in the aisle wears that makes you think, "How much time can I spend in the bathroom before it becomes rude to the point of cruelty?" Shortly before ordering the strongest possible drink as fast as you possibly can.

In its press release, McDonald's says Happy will serve as "an ambassador for balanced and wholesome eating... and will encourage kids to enjoy fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and wholesome beverages such as water or juice."

Happy accompanies a new yogurt option (alternative to french fries) in the Happy Meal. So, Happy is telling kids to eat their fruits and vegetables.

Kids.

Kids, who will take one look at Happy and know that if they sat next to Happy in the lunch room, their social life would be over until they went to college. If you thought kids hated eating their fruits and vegetables before, now those fruits and vegetables are associated with being a social outcast... which makes me think that maybe, just maybe, Happy isn't the marketing snafu it first appears to be.

Maybe Happy is ACTUALLY a piece of marketing genius.

Consider this: McDonald's serves burgers, sodas, fries, Filets-o-Fish, McRibs, Egg McMuffins and basically everything that is bad for you and can fit inside of a sesame seed bun. McDonald's might SAY it's embracing healthy eating, but it's not.

If everyone in the world started eating what their doctor told them to, McDonald's would go out of business inside of two weeks. So what does McDonald's do? It rolls out a mascot for healthy eating, to tell kids how great "fruits, vegetables and wholesome beverages" are; a mascot that is so deeply unsettling to look at, any child who sees it will probably never want to go within 100 miles of fruit, vegetables or wholesome drinks ever again.

You know what doesn't have any fruits or too many vegetables? Burgers. Fries. Filets-o-Fish. McRibs. Egg McMuffins and basically everything else McDonald's serves.

McDonald's has not rolled out a messed-up mascot, it's invented the anti-mascot. Happy is reverse-psychology marketing in action.

Children, highly impressionable children, will now forever associate "balanced and wholesome eating" with the kid who sits alone in the corner of the cafeteria and brings his cousin to the Homecoming dance.

Sure, Happy might have crazy eyes... but I would submit that they might just be crazy, like a fox. Crazy like a fox that will spend the rest of its life thinking trans-fats are what the cool kids are eating.

Well played, McDonald's.

How much help do rural schools in your state need?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-20 08:30

The Rural School and Community Trust has released its "Why Rural Matters" report for 2013-2014, tracking the conditions of rural education in each of the 50 states. Using a combination of measurements, including student diversity, socioeconomic conditions and educational outcomes, the nonprofit organization categorizes in its report the overall need for support of rural education in each state.

In particular, the report highlighted the fact that rural schools, which serve 20 percent of U.S. schoolchildren, are experiencing higher growths in enrollment rates compared to non-rural schools. Rural schools also serve an increasingly diverse demographic and a growing percentage of students live in poverty, according to the report.

NPR To End 'Tell Me More,' Eliminate 28 Positions

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 08:28

The moves come as part of the network's effort to eliminate budget deficits. Tell Me More host Michel Martin will remain with NPR.

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This is your brain on a phone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-20 08:00

There is word that Britain's National Health Service has just commissioned a big study to see what mobile phones are doing — if anything — to our kids.

This is one of the biggest stories I'v seen so far while broadcasting this week from London, and yet it has received very little coverage outside of these isles.

Here is the part that stopped me in my tracks: Researchers say this is not something that has been studied much. It should be said that perhaps there are no significant health, cognitive or developmental effects of young people using cell phones the way they do. But until this new research starts bearing fruit in a few years these will remain open questions.

The study will recruit parents and children at about 160 middle and high schools around London. They have to agree to let a special app monitor the phones of children as young as 11. The app will track how the phone is used, as a speaker phone, via headphones or how often it's held up against the ear.

Researchers, coordinated by the Imperial College London, are interested in any effects of radio waves emitted by the phones but also how the regular use of mobiles might change the way kids think or remember information. It's not just the effects of phones they are interested in, but other digital devices such as tablets as well. Alarmist nonsense? It is being noted here that the World Health Organization has said there is an urgent need for this kind of research with youngsters.

It is interesting that for a while now the National Health Service over here has had guidelines urging that phones should only be used by kids for "essential purposes." If you have ever seen a kid stuck in that praying mantis pose with a phone in hand, you know that is not always the case. That is to say kids have been known to use smart phones for more than just calling home for a ride or checking if the teacher had sent an email.

The lead investigator in the new British study is quoted by the BBC saying, "As mobile phones are a new and widespread technology central to our lives, carrying out the study is important in order to provide the evidence base with which to inform policy and through which parents and their children can make informed life choices."

What I am wondering is where they are going to find kids for the study's control group: the kids who never use phones are becoming a very rare breed.

G.M. Recalls 2.42 Million Vehicles Over Four Different Issues

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 07:42

The American auto company has faced intense criticism over its failure to recall more than 2 million vehicles with ignition switch problems linked to at least a dozen deaths.

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E-Cigarette Users May End Up Paying More For Insurance

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 07:33

Tobacco users often have to pay higher premiums for health insurance, and it's not clear if switching to e-cigarettes will help them escape that fate. A lot depends on what federal agencies decide.

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Third Of French Are On Psychoactive Drugs, Agency Says

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-20 07:29

Too many French citizens are regular or occasional users of prescription drugs such as antidepressants and sleeping pills, a government health agency says.

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