National News

National Spelling Bee: Rare Co-Champions, And A Star Online

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 04:34

For the first time in 52 years, the Scripps National Spelling Bee crowns two winners, after the final two competitors exhausted the word list. Another speller won fans with his high energy.

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Shelly Sterling: LA Clippers Will Be Sold To Steve Ballmer For $2 Billion

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-30 03:26

Before a sale to the former Microsoft Corp. chief is official, it would require approval from the NBA's Board of Governors and the backing of Donald Sterling, the team's majority owner.

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How #YesAllWomen reignited the conversation about gender equality

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 03:00

What does the Isla Vista shooting in California have to do with gender equality you might ask?

Before going into full effect with his plans last Friday, the shooter left behind a 141-page statement where he described his plans to kill people and declare a war on women. According to the shooter's manifesto, romantic rejections by women sparked the 22-year old's rampage.

Dr. Wendy Patrick, business ethics lecturer at San Diego State University, joins Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith to discuss #YesAllWomen, the social media conversation that grew on Twitter. 

For NBA, courting Steve Ballmer could be a strategic move

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 02:14

The NBA hopes it's just made a game saving shot.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer plans to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion dollars. The deal -- which must still be approved by the NBA -- would come after the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he would force current owner Donald Sterling to sell after he made several racist and vulgar remarks in a recorded call.

There's a photo making the rounds of Steve Ballmer at a playoff game earlier this month, with Commissioner Adam Silver in his ear. Wharton Business School Professor Kenneth Shropshire says it's easy to imagine Silver making his pitch to Ballmer right then.

"If you think about the kinds of people you would speak to, Ballmer would certainly be on your list to court," he says.

That's because Ballmer's worth $20 billion dollars, making him one of the richest people on the planet.

Only one of the richest people on the planet can afford to pay a record $2 billion dollars for an NBA team, a deal the league hopes is sweet enough to discourage Sterling from tying up the sale in court.

Going forward, Emory University's Mike Lewis says the NBA would be psyched to have a deep-pocketed guy own the Clippers.

"You know they are sort of the New York Mets or the Chicago White Sox. They are the second team in that city. I think it's really attractive to the league to essentially have two really strong franchises in a major city like LA," he says.

Disposing of Sterling and the Clippers going deep into the playoffs -- for NBA owners that would be fantastic.

Bringing Bono on board might not be enough for Fender's slump

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 02:01

Bono and The Edge – the singer and guitarist for U2 – will join the board of directors at the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.

Fender guitars are revered by musicians.

Brian Majeski, an editor at The Music Trades magazine, says Fender does “not need these guys to burnish their credibility with musicians or the music-buying public.”

But, across the industry, guitar sales are down 10 – 15 percent from their peak in 2008.

Perhaps the issue is not supply, but too little demand.

“Maybe this slump in guitar sales is a lot of kids aren’t learning to play the guitar because it’s hard,” says Jimmy Griffin, who manages Killer Vintage, a guitar shop in St. Louis.

Griffin says he never would have bothered learning the guitar if he knew that he could be a rock star with just two turn-tables and a microphone or a computer.

EPA's carbon rules may give some states a head start

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 02:00

On Monday, when the White House rolls out President Barack Obama’s biggest climate change initiative—proposed rules to limit the carbon dioxide created by existing power plants — there will be greenhouse-gas reduction goals set for every state.  And in terms of carbon emissions, states are, well, all over the map.

That's one way to count. Here's another: 

 The second one gives a clue as to which states are buring the most carbon-intensive fuel -- coal.

"You’ve got some states such as North Dakota or Wyoming where they’re nearly 100 percent coal, so they have very high emissions intensities," says John Larsen, an analyst at the Rhodium Group, an energy consulting firm.   

Meanwhile, Washington gets much of its power from zero-emissions hydro-electric dams.

Some of the variation depends on, yes,  the lay of the land. "It’s not just natural resources, in terms of rivers or sun or wind," says Ethan Zindler with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "It’s also, 'Do you have an ample supply of fossil fuel nearby?' So, it's not shocking that Kentucky is heavily-reliant on coal for power-generation, since there is a good deal of coal locally available." 

And some places -- like California and some New England states -- already have programs going to carbon emissions.

That could mean a head start when EPA rules go into effect. "Some people will come to the table and say, 'Well, those states are going to be advantaged here,'" says Sara Hayes with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

However: Which states actually get a head start will depend on how the EPA writes its rules.

"There’s 25 states that already have energy efficiency savings plans in place," says Hayes. "People will come to the table and say, 'Those 25 states, they’re ahead of the game.' And others will say, 'Well a state that hasn’t done anything yet...'"  Will the abundance of low-hanging fruit be an advantage?  Until Monday's announcement, nobody knows. 

 

Brazil's drought creates a surge in global coffee prices

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 01:00

If you happen to be drinking your morning coffee right now you might want to take a few extra moments to savor it...

A severe drought in Brazil has hit its coffee-growing region hard in recent months, helping to push prices up and ruining crops in the world's biggest coffee producing country. 

So what does it mean for farmers in Brazil -- and for the price of your cappuccino?

The BBC's Katie Watson joins Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith to discuss. 

Silicon Tally: Twins in Space!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 01:00

It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news? This week we're joined by NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, A.K.A. Mohawk Man .   var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-twins-in-space", placeholder: "pd_1401399764" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'https://polldaddy.com/survey.js':'http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

Once Forbidden, Books Become A Lifeline For A Young Migrant Worker

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 23:04

Growing up moving from farm to farm, Storm Reyes had to pack lightly. That meant no books. She felt hopeless about the future, until one day, a bookmobile appeared in the fields and changed her life.

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Drone Wars: Who Owns The Air?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 23:03

There are lots of entrepreneurs who would love to build drone-based businesses. But right now, there's a battle over whether it's legal for drones to take to the sky.

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Anatomy Of A Dance Hit: Why We Love To Boogie With Pharrell

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 23:01

There are songs that just make people want to get up and shake their booty. Why? Scientists say the most enticing rhythms have something missing — beats that your body can't help but fill in.

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'Period Of Turmoil' Preceded Abramson Firing, Says Top Editor At 'Times'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 19:33

In an interview with NPR, The New York Times' new executive editor, Dean Baquet, said Jill Abramson was fired because of her failed relationship with the publisher and with senior editors.

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Curveball: Do kids still read actual books?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 19:10
<a href="http://marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/ebooks">View Survey</a>

The economic backdrop to Tian'anmen

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 19:04
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 16:51 Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images

One of the many demonstrations at Tian'anmen Square in the spring of 1989, which ended with China's military firing on and killing demonstrators on June 4, 1989. Protesters weren't only asking for democracy. They were also frustrated with hyper-inflation, low wages, official corruption, and a lack of economic opportunity.

Politically, China may not have changed much from 25 years ago, but economically? It might as well be a different country.

University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies Director Mary Gallagher remembers what it was like for Chinese workers in 1989. "There’s this big population in the cities, still working for state-owned companies, not making high wages, still having an iron rice bowl, and it’s creating all of these problems in the economy and it’s also reducing China’s competitiveness."

And then, the economic equivalent of a hurricane for these poorly-paid urbanites: hyper inflation. "While prices were going up at an average of about 7 percent a year in the mid 80s, in ‘88 there was a spike where it was more like 17 percent. So that kind of inflation hit hard," says Jeffrey Wasserstrom, University of California-Irvine history professor and author of "China In the 21st Century".

In a TV news reel from 1988, thousands of desperate shoppers at a Shanghai department store reach over each other to buy food. Up until then, prices were set by the government. But in 1988, the government began to systematically lift these price controls, allowing goods to be sold on the open market for the first time. Nobody knew when prices were going to rise, prompting waves of panic buying. “I’ve taken out all my money from the bank and I bought a bed," said one shopper to a Shanghai television reporter. "I don’t need one, but everyone is scrambling to buy one before the price of beds begin to rise.”

(Navigate to 2:45 and 5:35 to watch the footage of shoppers).

In 1988 China, prices were rising, salaries weren’t. Suddenly, many Chinese couldn’t afford many simple household goods. A song by musician Cui Jian captured the feeling of helplessness of the times: "I have asked you endlessly," the song goes, "when will you go with me? But you always laugh at me, for I have nothing to my name."

The lyrics seem to describe a boy, down on his luck, begging his girlfriend to leave with him. But others interpreted the boy as China’s young generation asking the rest of China –including the government – to join it. The song "Nothing to my Name" became an anthem to the demonstrations that later developed at Tian’anmen Square in 1989.

"I think generally Americans and the American media and the western media focused on the political issues more than the economic issues," University of Michigan’s Mary Gallagher said about the media coverage of the 1989 protests. Gallagher says framing the Tian’anmen demonstrations simply as students fighting for democracy ignores the fact that the rest of China’s population – many of whom were blue-collar workers – were protesting for better economic opportunities, too. "I think the general support the students got from the population was much more related to economic issues like inflation, like corruption, like failure to take advantage of opportunities. And people associated those things with political change."

But political change was too much to ask from China’s leaders. In the early morning hours of June 4, 1989, China's military turned on its own civilians, shooting and killing hundreds of people.

In the year following the Tian’anmen massacre, GDP growth plummeted, so did foreign investment. But it didn’t last long. China’s government sped up economic reforms, while keeping a lid on political reforms. This is often referred to as the unspoken deal China’s government made with its people after Tian’anmen: We allow you to make more money, you don’t challenge our authority.

University of California’s Jeffrey Wasserstrom says 25 years later, with China’s economy now slowing down, there are signs the Chinese people want to renegotiate this deal – it’s no longer clear that making more money is an option. "Now I think there’s a sense that if you’ve been left behind, maybe you’ll be permanently left behind," says Wasserstrom. "And also, with the rising concern with issues like food safety, and heavy polluted air and water, I think it’s not so clear to people anymore that they can assume their children will live better lives than they did."

"People are angry, but people are worried that if something changes, would anything get better?" asks University of Michigan's Mary Gallagher. "I don’t think people in China have much confidence in democracy right now, and looking around them they may feel particularly people in the cities and people in the middle class may feel that democracy could end up even worse. It’s a much more segmented society, and people who are wealthy and who are middle class have much more to protect. And when they think about democracy, they think about majority rule. And I think majority rule is scary to them."

The song that defined China’s generation of ’89 ends with singer Cui Jian asking a question, interpreted by some to be posed to China’s government: “Why do I always have to chase you? Could it be that in front of you, I’ll forever have nothing to my name?”

This year, China’s government invited Cui Jian to sing at the New Year Gala on state television, a program watched by 700 million Chinese, six times the number of people who watch the Superbowl. Cui accepted, on the condition that he sing "Nothing to my Name".

The government wouldn’t let him.

Cui Jian's response to the government? We no longer have a deal.

 

Marketplace for Wednesday June 4, 2014 Image from China: Portrait of a Country, edited by Liu Heung Shing, published by Taschen

On June 5, 1989, a young couple waits beneath Jianguomenwai bridge on the fringe of Beijing's diplomatic area, as PLA tanks roll above them. The previous day, tanks moved on Tiananmen Square to quell student protests.

by Rob SchmitzPodcast Title The economic backdrop to Tian'anmenStory Type FeatureSyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No
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