National News

Mozilla CEO resigns amid controversy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 14:16
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 03:11 Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Firefox, the popular open source web browser owned by Mozilla.

After only 11 days on the job, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned on Thursday. Controversy arose earlier this week when it was discovered that Eich had contributed to the 2008 campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California. Eich initially defended his position on same-sex marriage, arguing it would not affect his leadership role at the company. 

Many Mozilla employees began to voice concerns their new CEO was not fit to head what is seen as a progressive company. And dating website OKcupid earlier this week asked Firefox users to stop supporting Mozilla because of its CEO's politics. 

"In the past couple of days, there's been mounting pressure from people all over the Mozilla community urging him to resign," said Casey Newton, who has been reporting on this for The Verge. "The argument they're making is that he can't be an effective leader when his values opposing same sex marriage oppose those of Mozilla as an organization."

Eich does stand out from a tech community that largely supports gay rights. Jeff Bezos donated heavily to a 2012 campaign in Washington to approve same-sex marriage. However, Newton added that Mozilla as a company stands out from the tech company for another reason as well.

"Mozilla is a really unusual case because it has this policy of openness. And it actually encouraged its employees to get on the Internet, to write blog posts, to tweet about how they felt. So you had this extraordinarily public discussion that would be unimaginable in almost any other company," said Newton.

Marketplace Tech for Friday, April 4, 2014Interviewed By Ben JohnsonPodcast Title: Mozilla CEO resigns amid controversyStory Type: InterviewSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

One More Speed Bump For Your Retirement Fund: Basic Human Impulse

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 14:02

Basic human impulses often conflict with saving for retirement. For one thing, people hate losing something — even more than we love winning. Behavioral economists call this "loss aversion."

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Another Tragedy For A City All Too Familiar With Extreme Gun Violence

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 13:54

In Killeen, Texas, another mass shooting had some asking, "Again?" The flags flew at half staff as the community began to pick up the pieces.

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Questioning the reliability of ADP job numbers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 13:47

The government will tell us Friday how many jobs were created in March, but a payroll processing company called ADP puts out its own jobs numbers every month, a few days ahead of the government. 

Lately, those numbers have been  off, and economists have been upset. But ADP defends its numbers. “Every month we’re a little above or below, but on average we’re almost right on,” says  Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist at Moody's, which works with ADP to come up with the jobs numbers.

Koropeckyj acknowledges that they’ve tinkered with the formula used to come up with the ADP jobs number, adding information from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. But she says, there are millions of jobs in this country, and their figure may be off by tens of thousands.

Here are their numbers for this month, via Jeoff Hall at Thomson Reuters:

Avg absolute miss between initial ADP and initial BLS estimates of private payrolls down 33% since methodology change pic.twitter.com/kT1dBiAugU

— Jeoff Hall (@JeoffHall) April 2, 2014

Food stamps: A reporter's notebook

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 13:42

David Gura: Your story has generated a lot of listener response. One comment that came in pretty early on is 'Should we be shocked by this—by the way the system works?'

Krissy Clark: Yeah, and my point isn’t at all to decide if you or any of the listeners should be shocked by this. My point is just to say, ‘Hey, let’s look at what is really going on,’ in terms of how food stamps function as a part of our economic system, in all of these different ways. And maybe that will help us have more informed conversations about like things like food stamp funding, about debates around the minimum wage. Let’s just look at it and all get on the same page about it.

Gura: Your stories focus a lot on Walmart—why?

Clark: Walmart is kind of hard to avoid when you’re talking about things like food stamps and wages, just because they are so big. They are the largest employer in America. They are the largest recipient of food stamp dollars. And they are the largest retailer, full stop, in America. And because they’ve been such a successful company, they’ve really set the tone in a lot of ways for the competition. And I want to give Walmart a lot of credit for being very open to talk about this stuff. They invited me down to their headquarters in Arkansas, they really engaged in the issue. Other retailers that we reached out to—they all declined to be interviewed for this story. 

But I also think that the role Walmart plays in the economy, especially for low income families, is a really interesting one. And it’s kind of encapsulated in this phrase I kept hearing at Walmart headquarters. “EDLC leads to EDLP” [Every Day Low Costs leads to Every Day Low Prices]... I think it gets to the heart of the paradoxes of the food stamp economy in America in a lot of ways.

Krissy Clark/Marketplace

A sign on the wall at Wal-mart headquarters.

Gura: Explain….

Clark: I was at Walmart headquarters in Arkansas, at the visitor center there. And all of the floor tiles in the visitor center, which was actually one of the first stores that Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, opened—all of the tiles were mismatched. The colors were off. And Alan Dranow, who oversees the visitor center, pointed them out to me, and explained that they were mismatched because Sam Walton got a good deal on the tiles from the contractor. He told me, “I point to that as a very first example of EDLC, which is Every Day Low Cost, which is how we get to EDLP, which is Every Day Low Prices, which is our pricing strategy.”

...I heard it multiple times when I was at the headquarters... And you can look at the equation in two different ways. When I talked to Karrie Denniston of the Walmart Foundation, she sees this as one of the key ways that Walmart helps low income Americans.

She told me “One of the greatest assets that we provide to local communities is often being there, being a grocer that can bring safe, affordable nutritious products in to areas that may not even have had access to them before.”

But of course remember that equation: "EDLC = EDLP." To get to those everyday low prices, you need everyday low costs, and one of those costs is the cost of labor.

Gura: Some people have argued—and indeed we’ve seen them argue this on the comment section on the website—that Walmart could just raise wages, and I wonder why they haven’t done that—why they’ve decided not to?

Clark: Well, Walmart is a business. They have reasons why they think their approach is the best thing for their bottom line, and their share holders. And then there are questions about well, if you raised wages would that increase prices, and by how much? And then would that hurt low-income Americans in a different way? 

There’s also this other point that an economist at UC-Irvine named David Neumark brings up: 

“I wish they were more skilled and were worth more in the labor market, but assuming that’s not going to happen in the near future, I’d certainly rather they get those benefits than not get them,” Neumark said of food stamps going to low-wage workers. “And, I don’t personally as an economist, have a strong feeling about somehow there’s a moral obligation for workers to earn from their work, or for employers to make sure they earn that from their work.”

He says it’s not like food stamps are making Walmart and other companies pay low wages. Even if food stamps didn’t exist, they might pay low wages. And so if low wages are part of the service economy right now, and this is the economy we have -- maybe food stamps coming in to make up the difference is a good system for low wage workers.

Gura: So he’s talking about the near future and the economy we have right now—where does that leave us? Are things going to change? How would they change?

Clark: The one thing everybody I talked to from Walmart to the low-paid workers who are on food stamps said is, ‘We would love a world in which the food stamp program did not need to exist’-- especially for people who are able-bodied and who are working. But the question is how do we get there? How could we kick start the economy so that businesses aren’t even necessarily getting pressured in to raising their wages higher, but that they need to because there are a lot of people with a lot of skills who can demand a lot for the work they’re doing?

Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark talking with volunteers at a Foodbank in Ohio.

David Letterman Will Retire In 2015

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 13:22

Letterman has hosted Late Show on CBS since 1993. He made the announcement during a taping of the show in New York.

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David Letterman retires from 'Late Show'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 13:19
Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 15:58 Wikimedia Commons

David Letterman is putting down the mic.

There's a coming changing of the guard at the Ed Sullivan Theater.   David Letterman has announced that this will be his last year as host of The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS.   So, just one more year of Stupid Pet Tricks, trips to see Rupert Jee at the Hello Deli, of that playful banter with Paul.   No word on who'll replace Letterman.   Maybe Jay Leno's interested?   Marketplace for Thursday April 3, 2014by David GuraPodcast Title: David Letterman retires from 'Late Show'Story Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Overdraft fees hit a record

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 13:02

If you’ve overdrawn your checking account lately, you may have noticed a jump in the penalty. A recent study from economic research firm Moebs Services says the median overdraft charge reached $30 last year—up from $29 the year before.

Banks say they’re trying to make up for lost revenue. Since 2010, customers have to opt in to overdraft plans, which let you buy that $4 latte even when you have just $2 in your account. That’s cut into the fees banks can collect. Moebs says people are also being more careful not to spend money they don’t have.

David Letterman retires from 'Late Show'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:58

There's a coming changing of the guard at the Ed Sullivan Theater.   David Letterman has announced that this will be his last year as host of The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS.   So, just one more year of Stupid Pet Tricks, trips to see Rupert Jee at the Hello Deli, of that playful banter with Paul.   No word on who'll replace Letterman.   Maybe Jay Leno's interested?  

What to do when healthcare isn't enough

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:48

We were all trying to breathe through our mouths, and despite his obvious pain, 45-year-old Mariano Garcia sat transfixed, watching his podiatrist Dr. David Millili cut through the bandages wrapped around Garcia's left calf.

It was one of those moments that takes forever, the smell filling the air. As the dressings came off, the room went quiet.

Garcia gagged, and Millili balked.

“I don’t have access to treat this right,” Millili said. “I don’t see any maggots or anything. I’m not dealing with this.”

Millili turned to Garcia:  “When was the last time the bandages were changed?”

“Last time I was here,” Garcia said.

Millili was incredulous. “Really? A week?” he said.

Jessica Kourkounis

Millili changing Garcia's bandages.

Garcia’s been coming to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J. for two years now, and everybody in the exam room knows exactly what needs to happen: Those bandages must get changed daily. But no matter how simple it sounds, it’s not happening.

Garcia says it hurts him too much to do it, and visiting nurses say they don’t feel safe going to his neighborhood. Frustrated and defeated, Millili has one choice right now, but he knows sending Garcia to the hospital is just a temporary fix.

“When we finally get things turned in the right direction again for him, how do we keep it that way?” Millili says. “Three weeks after he leaves the hospital, why are we not in the same situation? I can’t control infection. I can’t control pain. I can’t control these wounds.”

The doctor is talking about Garcia, but he may as well be talking about one of the biggest puzzles in this new era of healthcare. How can doctors keep people healthy when they have almost no control over what happens outside the four walls of the hospital?

It’s the edge of the healthcare world.

“A lot of clinical care is kind of like the tree falling in the forest,” saysRebecca Onie who runs the non-profit Health Leads, which works with medical providers to connect their patients to social services. “For example, a patient will come in to manage her diabetes but needs to refrigerate her medication and hasn’t had electricity for six weeks.”

Onie says now that hospitals either must drive down costs, or face what could be crippling financial penalties. Healthcare executives must leave the medical map behind and head out for the uncharted territory.

“They are going to have to begin paying for a set of things that have historically [been] considered outside the scope of traditional healthcare,” she says.

And so we are beginning to see healthcare’s first, hesitant steps, where doctors and hospitals wade into the world of social services. 

Health Leads works with 20 providers, serving some 15,000 families. Kaiser Permanente, one of the top health systems, has several pilot programs, including one in Oregon where ambulance staff act more like social workers – helping solve would-be domestic problems, and avoiding trips to the ER.

“We spend almost 1.5 times more than the next most expensive country and yet our health outcomes are among the very worst in all high income countries,” says Yale public health professor Elizabeth Bradley.

She says it’s no mystery that education, poverty and safety have more to do with a person’s overall health than medical care does. In her book last fall, Bradley and her co-author, Lauren Taylor, found people in countries that spend less on medical care but more on social services were healthier than people in the United States.

“The major reason we are not doing better... the unnamed culprit is that we are probably spending less on the social services than is necessary,” Bradley says.

This social service healthcare frontier isn’t as popular as the California Gold Rush, but it's close. It’s on the tip of tongues at healthcare conferences. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation identified it earlier this year as one of three critical steps to move healthcare forward. Even the nation’s largest healthcare program for the poor – Medicaid – has signaled its willingness to pay for some care outside the traditional stuff -- for example, air conditioners for asthmatics.

“We recognize that it can’t just be the office visit,” says Dr. Stephen Cha, the chief medical officer for Medicaid. “That’s the core of it, but we have to think about when we face this patient, we are looking at much more than just what we can do in that 15-minute span.”

In this first wave of programs, insurers aren’t paying for job training, hospitals aren’t moving families out of dangerous neighborhoods. But if interventions save money, then the game changes.

Kaiser Permanente’s Raymond Baxter, who oversees several non-medical projects, including the paramedic pilot, says it’s early, but that he sees promise.

“We are now adding a cost to the system in the short term,” he says. “However, if that intervention averts a series of visits to emergency rooms, in the long run you are going to see some real gains here.

Harvard health economist Amitabh Chandra has his doubts. Providers can only save money if they can pinpoint which patients truly benefit – a tall order – he says.

“I think of that as analogous to the man mission to Mars,” Chandra says. “It’s something that can be done. There is no theorem in economics or statistics that says it’s not possible. But you need absolutely terrific data to be able to make that happen. And I’ve just never seen it.”

Chandra’s driving at the X-Factor so often at the crux of healthcare: What can make people change their behavior?

Which brings us back to Mariano Garcia in Camden.

“I wish I could get better and get all this cleared and get me a job and work,” Garcia says.

Garcia’s life is so precarious, his options all risky. If he lands a spot in an inpatient treatment program for his leg, he’s not sure what happens to his one-room apartment.

Jessica Kourkounis

Garcia at home. 

“I don’t want to lose my place because I’ve going to the hospital,” he says. “When I get discharged from the hospital, then I’m where am I going to go out?”

There’s no easy answer, which is what makes wading outside medical care tricky. But hospital staff addressing Garcia’s social needs has helped him keep appointments and – even once or twice – change his own bandages.

What to do when an online review isn't true

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:35
Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 13:32 Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Employees of the online review site Yelp at the East Coast headquarters of the tech company in New York City

Negative, anonymous reviews on websites like Yelp can hurt small businesses.

A carpet cleaner in Virginia says false and malicious reviews on Yelp drove customers away, forcing the company to lay off employees.

Joe Hadeed wants the Virginia Supreme Court to force Yelp to reveal the identities of the people who wrote the negative reviews.

But Virginia law is unusual. In the rest of the country, most judges have protected anonymous online reviews to ensure reviewers are safe from retaliation.

Yelp spokesman Vince Sollitto says the company vets its reviews. “We actually use an algorithm to recommend the most valuable and reliable content. So Yelp only recommends about 75 percent of the content it receives.”

Marketplace for Thursday April 3, 2014by Jeff TylerPodcast Title: What to do when an online review isn't trueStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

G4S goes where public forces can't

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:26
Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 13:23 Lars Schmidt/Wikimedia Commons

London based company G4S is the largest private security company in the entire world. It contracts ex-military soliders to go where public forces can’t. The company has about 620,000 employees in 120 different countries, and provides gurard services anywhere from oil fields to nuclear facilities in the U.S.

William Langewiesche wrote about the company in a piece for Vanity Fair called “The Chaos Company”.  He said G4S is a $12 billion a year industry, and that the company has grown so large, that sometimes they have lost control.

“There’s no doubt that that’s a problem for G4S -- as it would be for any company that size. So yes, of course they have problems. And they’re an easy target because they are a private force and this goes against the conventional grain: Where these are either police or military functions... in an ideal world [they] would be performed by a public force.  But you have to compare that to the riots, the killings, the brutatlity done by armies and by police forces.”

Langewiesche said the private security business is not without criticism, but that those who oppose the industry should take a close look at what public forces have actually done.

Marketplace for Thursday April 3, 2014Interview by David GuraPodcast Title: G4S goes where public forces can'tStory Type: InterviewSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Growing Evidence That A Party Drug Can Help Severe Depression

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:22

Commonly used antidepressants don't work for many people. That's why scientists are experimenting with ketamine, a hallucinogenic club drug called Special K.

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Who's Who In Senate-CIA Report Showdown

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:14

A Senate panel voted Thursday to declassify parts of a controversial report on the CIA's use of interrogation activities. Here's a look at some of the key Senate players and their motivations.

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A Week Into His New Job, Controversy Forces Mozilla CEO To Resign

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:09

Brendan Eich is a co-founder of Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser. But his personal donation to an anti-gay-marriage campaign means he's no longer CEO.

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New Shooting Revives Old Questions About Mental Health In Military

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:02

The mass shooting at Fort Hood, the second at the same Army base in just five years, is renewing questions about the state of mental health treatment on U.S. military bases.

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Mega-Donor Opens Wallet On The Hill To Kill Online Gambling

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:02

Sheldon Adelson is possibly the most influential campaign donor in the U.S. He also happens to be the head of the Sands casino empire, and now he's behind a push in Congress to ban online gambling.

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On Base And In Town, Shooting Summons A Dread All Too Familiar

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:02

From Killeen, Texas, where Fort Hood is based, Melissa Block talks to soldiers who were on base during the shooting, as well as with Killeen's mayor. The mayor explains how the town is trying to cope.

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What's Known — And Still Unclear — About The Fort Hood Shooting

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:02

A shooting at Fort Hood has left four people dead and 16 wounded. Robert Siegel reports on the latest news unfolding in Killeen, Texas.

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In The 1870s And '80s, Being A Pedestrian Was Anything But

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-03 12:02

Huge crowds packed arenas to watch the world's best pedestrians walk in circles for six days at a time. And trainers encouraged the athletes to drink champagne — at the time considered a stimulant.

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