National News

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

What if you found out your boss made racist remarks?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 10:46

On Tuesday night, twelve guys are scheduled to show up at work – a short shift where they'll collectively earn millions of dollars for themselves and their franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the job could prove tougher than usual in the aftermath of racist remarks allegedly made by team owner Donald Sterling released over the weekend.

The NBA is still investigating the legitimacy of a recording that appears to show Sterling making racist remarks about African-Americans, but the controversy made us wonder: What's it like to work for a boss who you believe harbors prejudice against you and others?

We asked people on Facebook and Twitter to share their experiences:

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Post by APM: Marketplace.

One tip for employers – if there is a prejudiced person calling the shots, experts say it's best to give them the boot. "Workplace Discrimination Has Real Economic Consequences" begins one section of a 2013 study by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. Some of those consequences include lower profits for companies, a high turnover rate and decreased employee productivity at work.

The NBA has not yet decided what, if any, action it will take against Sterling. However, workplace consultant Virginia Clarke has advised employers on how to handle prejudice when it surfaces in the workplace.

"I advise companies to not tolerate bias or discrimination at any level," she says. "Boards of directors must hold senior leaders accountable for such transgressions. Senior leaders need to start making leaders and owners accountable for their behavior and the development of their subordinates."

Clarke, a partner with executive leadership recruiter Amrop Knightsbridge, continues, "Leading in a multicultural world is a leadership competency that needs to be learned in some cases. In order to be a real competency the learning must transcend tolerance; it must require a demonstration of true understanding and empathy."

Have you ever had to work for someone you believed harbored prejudice against you or others? How did that experience affect your ability to do your job? Leave a comment below, on Facebook or tweet us @MarketplaceAPM.

Got Gas? It Could Mean You've Got Healthy Gut Microbes

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 09:43

Passing gas, in some instances, may be a sign that you're kicking your gut microbes into action. And that means they can help keep you healthy, says one scientist.

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What can the NBA do about unwanted owners?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 09:26
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 09:52 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Team owner Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers watches a game seated next to his girlfriend V. Stiviano.

The National Basketball Association says it's first order of business is to verify whether or not it's the voice of the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling, making disparaging remarks about African American people. The tape is allegedly a conversation between Sterling and his mixed-race girlfriend V. Stiviano. The man on the tape urges Stiviano not to bring her black friends to LA Clippers games. Taking photos with black people is like, quote, "talking to the enemy." Magic Johnson and Charles Barclay are among former NBA players who say if the tape is really the Clipper's owner then Sterling can't keep owning the team. For some perspective, we turn to Kenneth Shropshire, director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania.

And, a new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Care Center finds that breast-cancer survivors have a high rate of long-term unemployment. And the specific kind of treatment they get, may lower their chances of keeping their job or finding a new job years later.

Meanwhile, with a hint of the week ahead when it comes to not just those markets but to the economy and jobs, we check in with Carl Riccadona, senior US economist, Deutsche Bank Securities in New York.

Marketplace Morning Report for Monday April 28, 2014by David BrancaccioPodcast Title PODCAST: NBA deals with SterlingSyndication All in onePMPApp Respond No

How Russian sanctions could pinch Western companies

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 09:24
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 16:23 Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

The logo of state-owned oil company Rosneft is seen on the roof of gas-filling station near Stalin's time skyscraper in Moscow, 12 July 2006.

 

President Obama announced new sanctions against Russia today. The sanctions target 17 Russian companies and seven individuals. Among those individuals is Igor Sechin, the head of Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft.

How will that affect Big Oil? Well, for starters, BP’s stock fell after the sanctions were announced. BP owns almost 20 percent of Rosneft. 

At its annual meeting earlier this month, BP said it’s committed to its investment in Rosneft, and will comply with any relevant sanctions. And if those sanctions really start to bite, will Moscow take a whack at BP or Exxon? Some oil analysts say no.

“Western oil companies and Russia are in bed together... they are strange bedfellows, but they are dependent on one another,” says Stephen Schork, of the Schork report.

So far, drilling is continuing as usual in Russia. But senior Obama administration officials say the sanctions could be ratcheted up.

 

 

Marketplace for Monday April 28, 2014by Nancy Marshall-GenzerPodcast Title How Russian sanctions could pinch Western companiesStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Drowning in debt? Consider a restructuring

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 09:22

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.

High-school graduation rate hits 80 percent for first time

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-04-28 09:21
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 16:10 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

High school graduation rates have reached a new high following a decade-long campaign to raise graduation rates. A graduate wears his mortarboard with Free at Last written during the commencement ceremony for Cypress Bay High School graduates at Marlins Park on June 4, 2012 in Miami, Florida. 

For the first time, high school graduation rates in the U.S. are above 80 percent. That’s according to a report called “Building a GradNation.” The study was released today by a coalition of education groups, including Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates CenterAmerica’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education.

The news represents a significant improvement since 2001, when 71 percent of American teenagers graduated from high school. Researchers say several things have changed since then. One, there is better data, so the public is more aware of the problem. Two, the accountability movement in education: think "No Child Left Behind."

Robert Balfanz,  co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center and a research scientist at Johns Hopkins University, says when researchers started digging into the numbers, it showed that just 12 percent of the nation’s high schools were producing nearly half of the dropouts. Those high schools are known in education circles as “dropout factories.”  

John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises and one of the principal authors of the report, says some of those “dropout factories” have closed. “But many of them were re-tooled or re-designed,” Bridgeland says. “Smaller learning environments have been created. More personalized, engaging, rigorous classrooms that keep these young people in school and on track to graduate.”

Some states have raised graduation rates dramatically. North Carolina went from a 68 percent graduation rate in 2005 to over 82 percent today.

Jim Key, area superintendent for high schools in Durham, North Carolina, says his district now starts tracking students who are potential dropouts while they are still in middle school. Then the district sends them to ninth grade a few weeks early.

“That gives them a chance to become more acclimated to high school, to build some positive relationship with a few teachers, administrators and counselors,” Key says. It just gives those students a leg up, if you will, on being prepared for high school, to understand the expectations and what’s at stake.”

 What’s at stake is earning power, among other things. John Bridgeland says a high school graduate “will make $1 million more over his or her life time, than a high school dropout.”

 College graduates, of course, do even better. The latest statistics, however, show that fewer high school graduates are applying to college. Just under two-thirds of the class of 2013 attended college in the fall.

By Shea Huffman/Marketplace

Marketplace for Monday April 28, 2014by Sarah GardnerPodcast Title High-school graduation rate hits 80 percent for first timeStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

North Korea Issues Sexist Tirade Against South Korean Leader

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 09:20

South Korean President Park Guen-hye was called a "capricious whore who asks her fancy man to do harm to other person while providing sex to him." The "fancy man" in question: President Obama.

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New Film 'All About Ann' Looks At The Life Of A Texan Leader

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 08:31

A new HBO film, All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State looks at one of the most formidable political figures of her time, and the last Democrat ever to serve as governor of Texas.

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Steve Jobs' Death Inspired Goal To Get Kids Coding

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 08:30

Many public schools do not offer computer science classes, even though tech workers are in high demand. Now 30 public school districts have partnered with the nonprofit Code.org to get kids coding.

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South Sudan: History Was Always Against Us

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 08:29

South Sudan is reeling after rebels reportedly massacred hundreds of civilians last week. Host Michel Martin learns what this means for the future of the young country.

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Do Fans Have Any Responsibility After Sterling's Comments?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 08:29

Host Michel Martin speaks with business ethicist Jack Marshall about an appropriate response from the NBA, the players and the public after allegedly racist comments made by the L.A. Clippers' owner.

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Should Bigotry Get You Kicked Out Of The NBA?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 08:29

There has been widespread outrage to racist comments allegedly made by L.A. Clippers' owner Donald Sterling. Host Michel Martin learns more from sports columnists William Rhoden and Christine Brennan.

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Utah Mom Accused Of Killing 6 Of Her Babies Charged With Murder

NPR News - Mon, 2014-04-28 08:21

Megan Huntsman is accused of killing the children after giving birth to them between 1996 and 2006. She was arrested after her estranged husband discovered one body while cleaning out the garage.

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