National News

Out Of A Tough Day Of Diplomacy, A Surprising Deal On Ukraine

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 12:04

Diplomats from the United States and Europe gathered in Geneva Thursday to discuss how to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union spoke for more than five hours on the issue.

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Following Enrollment Deadline, Health Care Focus Turns To States

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 12:04

President Obama met Thursday with insurance company executives and a separate group of insurance regulators from the states, discussing their mutual interest in administering the new health care law.

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Unlikely Partnerships Spring From California Water Crisis

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 12:04

Farmers in the parched Central Valley are joining forces with farmworkers and a broad cross section of politicians to pressure the federal government to offer relief.

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Obama: Affordable Care Act Enrollment Hits 8 Million

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 11:59

At a White House briefing, the president referred to the Affordable Care Act, saying "this thing is working," and urged Republicans to stop trying to repeal the law.

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Hillary Clinton's Presidential Chess Board

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 11:49

Much of what will happen in the 2016 presidential race — in both political parties — hinges on whether Clinton decides to run. She has said she'll announce by the end of the year.

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Got A Hobby? Might Be A Smart Professional Move

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 11:46

Workers who have a creative outlet outside the office are more likely to be creative problem solvers on the job, a study suggests. Oh, and they have more fun.

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BP Exec Who Led Cleanup Settles On Charges Of Insider Trading

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 11:14

Keith A. Seilhan, who was the incident commander directing the company's cleanup effort, allegedly sold $1 million in BP stock based on non-public information about the extent of the spill.

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Malls are dead, long live the mall

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-17 11:06

Malls in America have struggled to keep business up since before the recession. They’ve faced competition from online retailers and haven’t found a solution to the loss of big box anchor stores who found they could no longer sustain the square footage they once did. It’s not hard to find an analyst trumpeting the death of the mall as developers look for alternatives.

Rick Caruso, CEO of Caruso Affiliated thinks he has it figured out.

“The most productive retailers and restaurateurs are all on streets, anywhere in the world. There isn’t a mall in New York City that does better than Madison Avenue or 5th Avenue.”

And that’s what he’s tried to imitate at his developments across Southern California. In Los Angeles, his best known properties may be the Grove and the Americana.

Even on an overcast mid-week afternoon, the Americana bustles with families. Caruso believes it’s because of the Americana’s park-like qualities.

“It taps into the natural rhythm of how we all live. Nobody naturally wants to go inside an enclosed box and spend the afternoon.”

He’s found that even bad weather won’t necessarily drive people away.  But he’s offering something more than blue skies.

“An indoor mall has now become a destination. Somebody goes there, shops for what they want and leave…and it’s not a great experience.”

At the Americana, visitors walk their dogs on the sidewalks and kids play on the green. Music piped through loudspeakers is the soundtrack and a red trolley roles by intermittently. Caruso says he doesn’t mind if people come and don’t spend money.

“We’ve created an environment where you can come and enjoy yourself. And I’m going to get you the next time” he jokes.

Shops are seen at the Americana at Brand shopping community in Glendale, California. (Shea Huffman/Marketplace) Caruso emphasizes the strict attention to detail at the Americana.

He’s had a hand in designing everything – from the type of stone used on store fronts to the statues modeled after those in France.

“We’re in the entertainment business. You step on the property in the morning, it’s got to be perfect.”

Marketplace Host Kai Ryssdal interviews Rick Caruso, CEO of Caruso Affiliated, as a trolley carries shoppers in the background at the Americana at Brand shopping community in Glendale, California. (Shea Huffman/Marketplace) And he’s serious about that – just like another entertainment company located not too far away.

“We study Disney and Disney studies us and we spend a lot of time with the Disney folks.”

For the malls that dot the country, Caruso sees a mixed outlook. Not all will survive. Those that do will have to become better at curating the mix of stores that shoppers can find there. They’ll also have to figure out what to do with the large spaces that big box retailers are shifting away from.

Shoppers talk amongst themselves at the Americana at Brand shopping community in Glendale, California. (Shea Huffman/Marketplace) But when it comes to applying what he’s learned in Southern California to the rest of the country – Caruso’s not as interested. He wants to stay in the region. The rest he’ll leave to someone else.

Scientists Spot A Planet That Looks Like 'Earth's Cousin'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 11:01

Kepler-186f is almost the same size as Earth, and it orbits in its star's "Goldilocks zone"-- where temperatures may be just right for life. But much is unknown because it's also 500 light-years away.

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Chili Say What? Linguistics Help Pinpoint Pepper's Origins

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 10:52

It turns out the first chili peppers were grown by humans in eastern Mexico. And it's not the same region where beans and corn were first grown, according to new ways of evaluating evidence.

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What 1717 means: your trolley number guess

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-17 10:21

In our interview with Rick Caruso, CEO of Caruso Affiliated and developer of famous Los Angeles malls like the Grove and the Americana, we asked him to divulge his favorite part of the mall. He answered with a riddle:

What does the 1717 number on the trolley at the Americana mean?

Or the 1759 number on the trolley at the Grove?

Caruso says if you guess the right answer, you'll get a free Sprinkles cupcake -- and we'll hold him to it.

Tweet @MarketplaceAPM or answer on our Facebook page.

[<a href="//storify.com/Marketplace/1717-and-1759-what-do-they-mean" target="_blank">View the story "1717 and 1759: What do they mean?" on Storify</a>]

First Embryonic Stem Cells Cloned From A Man's Skin

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 10:14

Scientists based their technique on the one used to create the sheep Dolly years ago. These cells might one day be useful in treating all sorts of diseases.

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Pepsi's profits up! But not because of soda

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-17 10:00

Pepsi surprised investors today with higher-than-expected earnings: Pepsi reported a net income of $1.22 billion in the first quarter of this year. 

But don't chalk the earnings up to sales of its famous soda. They've been flat. The real money is in chips.  It seems we're eating more of the chips Pepsi's Frito Lay division makes, specifically Fritos and Doritos.

"The PepsiCo products, whether it's chips or the other grab and go items they have certatinly fit well within the consumer's need for on-the-go food" - David Henkes, Vice President at Technomic.

Henkes says Pepsi is also venturing into other types of beverages, like juices and teas. It also makes energy drinks, which sell for more than soda. With Pepsi snacks gaining popularity in developing countries like India, Henkes says a great deal of Pepsi's future growth will be in new markets. 

'Why Am I Dead?' He Never Asked. Here's The Answer He Never Heard

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 09:39

Man goes in for a routine hip operation. In the corner of the operating room, there's a young med student watching. When things go wrong, she tries to make sense of what she sees.

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Prefab apartment buildings on the rise

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-17 09:23
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 16:13 Dan Bobkoff

The first floors of a modular apartment building are already in place behind the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

A new apartment building called The Stack is about to open in the Inwood section of Manhattan. By design, it looks like a collection of staggered Lego blocks. On the inside, it’s like any other modern rental building in New York. It has a sleek, simple design. 

What’s different is that these apartments were not built here in Manhattan, but almost entirely somewhere else. 

“The paint, the lighting, the kitchen cabinets, the appliances, the bathroom tile, fixtures, mirror, all of that is done in the factory,” says The Stack’s architect, Tom Gluck, with the firm GLUCK+.

Gluck has been an architect for years, but this is the first time his firm has built what’s called a modular building. 

Each apartment comes out of a factory from a company, like Capsys in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It looks like an auto plant, complete with assembly line run on a track in the ground. 

“Where we’re building pieces of building like you’d build a car in a factory. You get that repetition, that precision," says Tom O’Hara, director of business development at Capsys.

On one end of the plant, a team is joining steel beams to make the skeleton of a new apartment. On the other end, a crew is putting the finishing touches on a unit. One guy is tiling the bathroom. You could cook in this kitchen. There’s even a thermostat on the wall already. The apartments are so close to finished that they look like you could move in immediately, if they weren’t sitting on a factory floor.

An apartment module nearing completion at Capsys. It will soon be trucked to the building site and hoisted into place. (Photo: Dan Bobkoff)

But soon, this entire apartment will be put on a flatbed, trucked to the Bronx, then hoisted on top of all the other modular apartments. When the building’s done, you won’t even know it was built this way. 

There are many reasons proponents like O’Hara think modular construction is better: it’s built inside, away from weather and dirt. It’s faster because you can build the foundation and the building at the same time. There’s much less wasted material. And yet, while it’s popular in Europe, modular construction in the U.S. remains a rounding error, accounting for just a tiny percentage of new home and multifamily construction. 

“I think a lot of people really have misconceptions about the modular business,” O’Hara says.  “I think they feel somehow that there’s substandard construction in the factory.” 

He says most people think modular means mobile homes or boring, blocky buildings. To him, it just means it’s built better. 

“Why would I want my toaster built by a guy sitting on a bench with a ten snip banging things together. I want it out of a factory! Why shouldn’t the building come out of a factory?” O’Hara says. 

Modular has been seen as the future before, and yet never caught on beyond certain sectors like college dorms and hotels. 

But nearly everyone I talked to thinks this is the moment that changes.

“A lot of it truthfully has to do with this building that we’re standing in front of,” says Jim Garrison, an architect and professor at the Pratt Institute. We’re behind the new Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn, looking at what’ll soon be the tallest modular building: 32 stories of apartments. 

It’s funded by a big name developer. Garrison says it’s the biggest example that modular is possible, practical, and not necessarily cookie cutter. 

“We now have opportunities to build very interesting buildings using these systems. And, people are listening to the benefits that come with it,” Garrison says. 

That’s not to say modular doesn’t have downsides. Because it’s made of boxes, you end up with walls against walls, taking up valuable square footage in the building. Designers have to decide everything on the front end. But more developers are attracted to modular’s faster, and sometimes cheaper construction. And, with new projects in the works, maybe this time is different.

Marketplace for Monday April 21, 2014 Dan Bobkoff

The skeleton of a new apartment module comes together at Capsys's factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

Dan Bobkoff

A bathroom in an apartment at The Stack. All fixtures were installed in the factory, not at the site. 

Dan Bobkoff

A kitchen in an apartment at The Stack. Even the appliances were installed in the factory. 

Dan Bobkoff

A model living room at The Stack in the Inwood section of Manhattan. 

Dan Bobkoff

The staggered block design of The Stack was designed to highlight its modular construction. 

by Dan BobkoffPodcast Title Prefab apartment buildings on the riseStory Type FeatureSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Clarissa explained it all ... now she's 38

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-17 08:17

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at events for Friday:

It's Good Friday. The stock market will be closed, but most banks, business and government offices will be open.

Happy Birthday to Melissa Joan Hart... Sabrina, America's favorite teenage witch turns 38.

And a pop quiz! On April 18, 1775, this man earned his place in American history, for his famous ride alerting everyone that some unwanted guests were on their way.

The dream office of the future: No email!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-17 08:11

You’ve heard of B.Y.O.D.? That’s Bring Your Own Device.

It started when office workers ditched the company Blackberry and shelled out their own money to buy an iPhone for work. And that helped bring mobile computing devices into the workplace. Right now, there's another trend reshaping the workplace, says Tom Eich, the head of the digital tools practice for the design consulting firm IDEO. That trend is called B.Y.O.S., or bring your own software.

"It's also called the consumerization of IT,” Eich says. He notes that in the not so distant past, if you wanted software for work, say, like Powerpoint or Photoshop, "you used to have to go to your IT guy to get a licensed version on your computer."

Now you can find everything online and most of it is free. Office workers are turning to Dropbox instead of FTPing files to the company server. They're ditching Word and using Google Docs, when they need to share. And they're often doing it without asking the IT department Eich says this shift in buying power is what's whetting investor's appetites.

"And a lot of the more interesting innovations are entering through the consumer channels first," Eich says. 

In other words, start-ups are more focused on worker's needs. High up on that list of needs: getting rid of email.

"People are complaining about how much email is dominating their lives," Eich says. "So there's a need there that'll definitely push companies to find better solutions."

I went to check out Asana, one of the many startups in the Valley that's working on what's now being called "productivity software." Asana's co-founder is Dustin Moskovitz, who's also a co-founder of Facebook. The social network's unofficial motto is "move fast and break things." And in those early days, it was Moskovitz's job to keep Facebook moving fast.

"And I would spend a lot of my day trying to figure out what was going on," Mosiovitz explains. "And that's when we got into the pattern that most companies still use today which is just sending around a lot of email threads."

Moskovitz went looking for a software tool to help him coordinate people and projects but he couldn't find one and so he started writing a program himself. He says, engineers at Google, Apple and other tech companies have done the same thing. And those management tools have cut down on email and workers are more productive.

Moskovitz thinks these tools are part of the secret to Silicon Valley's success. And he wants to sell them to businesses around the world. And in the Valley, it sorta feels like everybody is using Asana, including start-ups like Uber, Airbnb, Nest and Pinterest.

When Pinterest's head of products Tim Kendall joined the company last year, they were 18 employees. Today, there are about 250.

"A lot of our projects require product design, they require engineering, they require marketing," Kendall says. "Tools like Asana can allow you to track all those different components that need to get executed to build and launch a product."

Kendall flips open his Macbook Air and shows me how Asana works. On his screen a dashboard, which shows all tasks, correspondence, check-ins, to-do lists -- or all the information he needs to manage a project -- on one page. I asked him how this was different from creating a Google docs list?

"It just has more flexibility," Kendell said and explained how he can re-organize information to fit the project.

It's not quite the brave new world I was expecting. It sorta looked like a mash-up of software like gdocs and a "to do list."

And Kendall was using email!

"I still use email but I'm able to track a higher volume of projects and workflows without commensurately increasing the volume of email," Kendall says.

Eich, the consultant from IDEO, sees lots of challenges. He says it's early days and there aren't any clear cut winners and losers yet. But he says, there's no turning back.

"Once you have had a workforce that’s complete grown up and immersed in digital technology, there not going to accept a tool kit from their employer that's so much worse than the thing that they experience in their personal lives," he says.

You know who he's talking about, right? Millennials.

15 Injured After Firetrucks Collide, Smash Into LA Restaurant

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 08:04

Two vehicles from different departments were rushing to the same fire in a suburb of Los Angeles when they collided. One of them careened into the restaurant.

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Why Did Vanity Fair Give 'Belfies' A Stamp Of Approval?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 07:47

"Selfie" may have been the 2013 word of the year. But "belfies," or "butt selfies" are now in the spotlight. We learn more about why they earned a fitness model a spread in Vanity Fair magazine.

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'Miserable' Doctors Prescribe A Different Career

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 07:46

A lot of children grow up wanting to be doctors, but now some physicians are discouraging others from joining the profession. What has changed over the years?

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