In the "dystopian document thriller," you are an immigration agent on the border of the fictional nation of Arstotzka. Will you follow the rules? Or will you aid those fighting against the establishment?
In the game Papers, Please, a "dystopian document thriller," you are an immigration agent on the border of the fictional nation of Arstotzka. Will you follow the rules? Or will you aid those fighting against the establishment?
The men's suit retailer, Jos. A. Bank, recently made an offer to buy its competitor, Men's Warehouse. Men's Warehouse turned down the deal but then today, two weeks after the refusal, made the same offer to Jos. A. Bank. This rare reversal is known as a "Pac-Man" defense, probably a reference to that moment in the classic video game when the ghosts go from a threat to a snack. If the deal goes through it would make the combined companies the largest men's suit seller in the country.
Both Men's Warehouse and Jos. A. Bank are known for selling inexpensive menswear, offering promotional deals like this one.
These chains market their clothing to the middle class. And the middle class is shrinking and demand for suits in general is down since the recession, "partly due to declining discretionary income and also partly due to high unemployment, which limited men's needs to purchase and wear suits to the office," says IBIS World retail analyst Nikoleta Panteva.
Despite an overall decline in men's wear sales, Jos. A. Bank and Men's Warehouse have grown post-recession. "Men's Warehouse has grown at 4.6 percent, while Jos. A. Banks has grown at 10.5 percent per year," says Panteva.
A merger between the two companies could help fend off competition from other brick and mortar retailers. "Some of it's also the discount stores, which are hit and miss, like Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Steinmart, those places have some pretty good values as well," says Andy Gilchrist, the author of The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothing. He says more discount stores are offering name brands and that could lure customers away from Jos. A. Bank and Men's Warehouse, together or separate.
In his Evangelii Gaudium(Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis has outlined where he wants the Catholic Church to go under his care. Among his priorities are inequality and poverty, he critiques the injustices of unfettered capitalism and doesn’t mince words:
How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?....
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born...
The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule....
He’s setting the agenda for where he wants the Church to go, says Dennis Coday, editor of National Catholic Reporter. In the same way it made non-proliferation and anti-communism priorities decades ago.
And he walks the walk, says Coday. He’s forsaken he Papal Palace for a hotel, he drives a Ford Focus instead of the Papal limousine. “This is a man who is Argentinean,” a country that experience severe economic crises in the past two decades. “There were people in the streets banging pots and pans, there was close to a total collapse of the economic system - that’s his pastoral experience and his starting point.”
Pope Francis is sending a direct message to make poverty and inequality a priority not just to the 1.1 billion Catholics in the world, but he’s also laying out a very official document for the charities and dioceses run by the church, directing in so many words that this issue should enjoy a higher profile.
“I would like to believe that it could make a lot of difference,” says Brian Porter Szücs, professor of history at the University of Michigan, but “the only reason I might hesitate in my optimism would be that this has been the church’s message for well over a century.”
Szücs, whose work has focused on very Catholic Poland, says Politicians ignored previous Popes’ critiques of Capitalism, and focused on the critique of Communism. “It seems to be one of those messages that people hear when they wish to hear it and ignore when its more convenient to ignore it.”
The widening gap between rich and poor in many countries and emphasis on wealth would suggest that it’s a message that has been often ignored so far.
But the new pope’s emphasis combined with his bully pulpit, or Ambo as it’s known in Catholicism, isn’t insignificant. As Charles Curran, professor of human values at Southern Methodist University put it, “The very fact that you are writing this article, you and many others, is proof of the fact that he has a teaching voice and that will be heard by some people .”
People into or out of New York, Philadelphia, and other East Coast cities this Thanksgiving are probably watching The Weather Channel -- or looking for text messages from their airline, saying their flight is cancelled or delayed.
But chances of getting trapped on a plane on the tarmac for hours are way, way down. There aren't as many horror stories about passengers bottled up for hours and hours, sometimes without food or even working bathrooms.
The bad news: More flights get cancelled. And airlines wait longer to board passengers. Which can itself mean longer delays.
"The people are sitting in the lounge, they’re not on the plane," says Kenneth Button, who studies aviation policy at George Mason University. "The slot on the runway becomes available, and then the airline simply can’t take advantage of it."
Overall, the trade-off has worked, says Christopher Elliott, who writes a consumer-advice column for National Geographic Traveler.
"It’s better to be inconvenienced right there at your point of origin than stuck somewhere," he says. "Or to even, god forbid, be stuck on a plane that’s parked on a runway somewhere and can’t go anywhere."
John Heimlich, an economist with the airlines’ trade group Airlines for America, says some passengers might prefer a wait on the tarmac to a cancelled flight. "If you’re not there for Thanksgiving Dinner, it’s not so much fun arriving on Friday," he says. "Missing a wedding. Missing a key business meeting. Missing a college graduation."
To adjust, he says airlines have started notifying passengers earlier when their flight could have a problem. Sending texts.
And there’s social media. United tweeted this morning about options for travelers to re-book for cities where the weather was bad. Cleveland. Washington D.C. New York.
It is November 27th and I'm 90 percent done all my holiday-gift shopping. I may break my all-time record!
Mind you, I'm one of those people whose eyes roll far back up the head when I hear Christmas music the week after Halloween and mutter "sacrilege" when elves with pointy-toed shoes share shelves with plump turkey plush-toys sporting pilgrim hats. However, I'm a realist and the reality is that for most of us, holiday-gift shopping plus travel plans cut into our already busy lives. Which means stress -- and not only financial. So my goal each year at this time is as follows: Set spending budget. Stick to budget. Then budget my stress.
Spending under stress means possibly spending more. Yes, I may get more for my money as sales climb closer to the holidays, but on the flip-side, I won't be as efficient a shopper under duress. (To thine own sell be true, shoppers!) Also, I want access to what I'd like to buy in all sizes and colors, rather than being forced to buy a plaid shirt for my brother who would much rather have a Cosby-sweater in the right size. Truth be told, the only person who gets super-special treatment under the tree is my 7-year old daughter. 'Santa' shops much more strategically and over a longer period of time for this one. To be fair, she gave me a cheat-sheet (a.k.a. 'For Santa') so I can hold out another week for a price-drop on the limited edition Easy Bake Oven. But not too long or I'll be stuck with the purple model instead of the black and chrome. (The horror!)
And of course, now that I've looked up that oven online to price-compare, nearly every window I open on my laptop has the oven 'following' me from site to site. Quite crafty of online retailers (and Google), but nevertheless, a tad creepy. It reminds me of a nagging salesperson on the retail floor: "You sure you don't want it? I have it in magenta!" But, if it saves me $20 to be cyber-stalked (mildly), I'll take it.
On this week's show, Marketplace senior reporter, Stacy Vanek Smith, joins me to give us the real scoop behind how retailers are tracking you online and now even more, in the stores themselves!
How do you feel about walking into a store and the store knowing that you're there? Maybe sending customized sale alerts to your cell phone as you walk around? Tell us your take on retailers, both on and offline, tailoring service to you by data tracking. And if you're not a fan, what strategies do you have or resources do you use to block the 'elves'?
We'd love to hear from you!
Pope Francis also says in a new treatise that he begs God "to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!"
A fresh tomato is 93.5 percent water. A fresh baby girl or boy is 75 percent water. A banana, 74 percent. We all start wet, and then, inevitably, dry. A 1-year-old baby carries 10 percent less water; a male adult 15 percent less. Life is a slow evaporation, with some curious exceptions.
As holiday shopping discounts kick into high gear this week, lots of people will be buying new smart phones. And whether you're an iPhone or an Android, one of the features that has had a lot of attention recently is voice recognition. But the more hands-free our tech world tries to be, the more a particular problem grows. A lot of voice recognition software seems to work best for English. And even if you're speaking English with an accent, Siri or Google might not translate nearly as well. Gabrielle Sama is the managing editor for CNET en Espanol. He and his reporting team have taken a close look at the issue. Sama joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to talk about the continuing challenges of voice recognition software.
Since 1919, bankers have come together every day to determine the price of gold around the world. But now the process -- the London Gold Fix – is under scrutiny by British regulators. Bloomberg reporter Liam Vaughan worked on a piece examining the system.
“[It’s] looking at whether it’s entirely fair for this certainly price sensitive -- if not confidential -- information to be in the hands of these banks before everyone else when these banks are also allowed to trade,” Vaughan says.
Click on the audio player above to hear more about the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority’s investigation into price setting in the $20 trillion gold market.
Some argue that spying on vast numbers of innocent people is a violation of privacy, as well as a waste of security resources. But others argue that mass electronic surveillance is vital to the fight against terrorism. A team of experts debates for the latest Intelligence Squared U.S.
The housing sector has been one of the economy's bright spots in recent months. Prices are still going up, but data suggest that the market is cooling or soon will be.
As the Obama administration continues its erratic roll out of health care reform, halfway around the world in Indonesia, authorities are getting ready to introduce the world's biggest universal health care program. It will cover all 240 million citizens and go into effect in 2014.
It will take five years to roll out completely but eventually the idea is that everyone will be able to get health care that is free at the point of use. It's an ambitious plan for a middle income country.
But as the BBC's Claire Bolderson found on the Island of Sulewesi -- one of the biggest in the Indonesian archipelago -- the country's health care system is already under strain.
Federal regulators have ordered the genetic testing company 23andMe to stop marketing its mail-order DNA sampling kits. The FDA says 23andMe has not proven the validity of the kit's results. 23andMe's co-founder is Anne Wojicki, the estranged wife of Google's Sergey Brin, and Google is a major backer of the company.
The website offers a mail-in service that lets you know more about your ancestry, and in turn information on your health and the future of your wellbeing. 23andMe includes analysis of a number of health conditions, diseases you might be a carrier of, and how your body might respond to specific drugs.
The FDA is worried about patients acting on false results -- getting treatment they don't need if those results are false positives, putting off doctor's visits if they get false negatives. The FDA wants to make sure 23andMe's kits do what they say they're going to do, and the agency says it doesn't have assurance from 23andMe that the test works the way the company says it does.
23andMe has 15 business days to respond to the FDA. If they don't respond in a way the FDA is happy with, the FDA may take additional action.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a character -- no doubt. If you go his website, you'll see his offers for everything from magazines to Skype dates to New York dinner parties. He'll make a personal video for you. He'll talk to you for ten minutes on the phone. He even sent a guy in Minnesota a cheeseburger once after the guy asked him for one on Twitter. The New Jersey dude who started the successful online store winelibrary.com seems up for almost anything for attention.
But, there is a catch. Vaynerchuck will give to you -- and then ask for you to give back. It's a method he's used for years. Now, brands like GE, Pepsi, and the New York Jets ask his agency, Vayner Media, to help with their social media mojo. Vaynerchuck 's new book, "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World," is out today.
Vaynerchuck is something of a social media genius. When it comes to describing his online philosophy, he says it all boils down to this: "I care about where the eyeballs and ears of the consumer are," Vaynerchuck says.
Vaynerchuck says if you want to improve your social media strategy, focus on being generous with your followers. Those would be the jabs he's talking about in the title of his book. Vaynerchuck says it's time to give 'em the right hook when you need something back from your followers.
"It's the theory of this book, which is give, give, give, and ask. That's what 'Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook' is," he says. "I want the leverage of giving first. Everybody right now on Facebook and Twitter is posting things like 'come to my open house,' 'buy my wine,' 'buy my book ' -- me, me, me, me, me, me! A funny thing happens when you care about somebody first, they tend to care about you. I mean, last year I didn't have a book out, I didn't throw any right hooks -- I didn't need anything from anybody. So I was just putting out good stuff. I was answering people's questions -- give, give, give, give. For the last month, I've been really annoying with my right hooks, but I built up the equity -- and I've been strategic about still putting out jabs."
To hear more about Vaynerchuck's social media strategy and how companies who hire him use it, click the audio player above.
For those who absolutely must cook their birds in hot oil, there are plenty of safety videos showing how to do it. Among the most entertaining is Shatner's rap.
If Scotland were to pull away from the United Kingdom, what would its society look like? What would its economy look like? The Scottish National Party today issued a kind of mission statement to start answering those questions. In 10 months, voters in Scotland will be asked, yes or no: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
Some of the big challenges they would undoubtedly face would be economic, and one of the big issues they'd have to decide is which currency to use. The Scottish National Party is proposing a currency union with the rest of the United Kingdom. And -- as we know from the euro zone -- running a currency union with more than one government involved can sometimes be pretty challenging.
For more on the Scottish economy and the challenges an independent Scotland would face, click the audio player above.
Katie Couric announced that she is taking a job as an internet anchor of a news show at Yahoo. Couric is still hosting her ABC daytime talk show "Katie" -- for now anyway. ABC hasn’t decided if it will renew the show. That may have been a factor in her decision, but what else did Couric, a television network anchor, consider when deciding to take a job hosting an internet show?
Susan Wise Miller, a career counselor in Los Angeles, says that if Katie Couric had asked for advice on whether to take the job at Yahoo, one of the first things she would have done is, “ask her what all the pluses of the new job are.”
One of the pluses, says DePauw media studies professor Mark Tatge, “Yahoo is writing some big checks.”
Another plus of going to Yahoo is the excitement of shaping the future of new media. “Yahoo is going to make some really bold changes or it’s not going to be around,” says Tatge.
Of course. that’s where the other part of the decision-making process, the minuses, or the down side of not taking the new job, come in. “I think Ms. Couric has to also be thinking what the future of broadcast news is and where broadcasting is going,” Tatge says.
Couric clearly believes it’s going in the direction of digital but it was not exactly an all or nothing decision for her. Yahoo and ABC have a content-sharing agreement so at least for now, she will be both the host of an internet news show and appear on network television.
There are few more dreaded phrases than this: "Can I borrow your car?"
But just as people increasingly rent out their houses to strangers on Airbnb, a new company is betting that we'll be willing to hand over our car keys when we go out of town.
The co-founders of FlightCar look like college freshman, and that’s because they would be if they hadn’t decided to start this company, putting their Ivy League educations on an indefinite hiatus. Nineteen-year-old Kevin Petrovic was accepted at Princeton University and 18-year-old Rujul Zaparde was on his way to Harvard University. Instead, they decided, along with co-founder Shri Ganeshram -- who was accepted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- to try to change the way we rent cars and take on the $11 billion airport car rental industry. That’s even though they’re too young to rent a car themselves.
“At any moment, there’s something like 360,000 cars in long-term parking lots in the top thirty U.S. airports,” said Zaparde. “That’s very inefficient.”
FlightCar will let you park for free and pay you if someone rents your car -- up to $20 a day. It picks you up and drop you off in a black sedan and washes your car. And, perhaps most importantly, it offers all of the peace of mind that a $1 million policy can buy.
“Everything is insured up to a million dollars,” said Zaparde. “We’ll cover liabilities, any collision, theft, and damage. Even if there’s a small scratch on the car it’s fully covered.”
The first location opened in San Francisco in February, followed by Boston in May, and L.A. last week.
So, who is actually brave enough to loan their car to a complete stranger? We all know how people treat rental cars, right? It tends to be those in their late 20’s or early 30’s. But not everyone is so youthful.
Walt French is a 65-year-old San Francisco portfolio manager who’s rented his Acura more than 10 times.
“To me, the great value of this is that before I learned about FlightCar, I was paying to park at the airport $15-$18 a day,” said French. Now, he collects money when he gets home, as he did recently following a weeklong trip to Shanghai.
“I got a check a couple hours ago for $111,” said French.
French is hooked. So is Joe Rosenberg, who now rents his BMW twice a month when he has to travel for work. His car has always been returned spic and span.
“I mean there’s obviously little things, like the mirror or the seat is in a different spot,” said Rosenberg. “But that’s no different than if you valet parked your car somewhere or went to carwash.”
Other customers haven’t been so positive, sharing horror stories on the the online review site Yelp about finding decomposing fried chicken wings stuffed in the side door pocket. Or worse, not getting fully reimbursed when their car was in an accident.
So far, investors haven't been scared away, even though the company is a long way from profitability. The teenage founders have raised around $6 million in funding. Among their investors are celebrities Ryan Seacrest and Ashton Kutcher.