National News

Comcast Cuts The Cord On Deal With Time Warner Cable

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 05:22

The Justice Department had raised concerns over the proposed $45.2 billion merger, which would have brought nearly 30 percent of TV and about 55 percent of broadband subscribers under one roof.

» E-Mail This

More Than A Dozen Hurt In Indiana High School Stage Collapse

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 04:55

Students sustained minor injuries in the collapse during the musical finale of a stage show in suburban Indianapolis.

» E-Mail This

Armenians Mark A Century Since World War I Massacre

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 04:15

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Francois Hollande of France were among those who attended a ceremony in the Armenian capital. German lawmakers vote to call the event "genocide."

» E-Mail This

Cable giants call off merger

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 03:00

Cable giants Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable are ditching out of their planned merger amidst a heap of regulatory scrutiny.

Combined, Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have had about 30 percent of the pay TV market and more than 50 percent of the broadband market.

Regulators worried that would thwart competition and mean higher prices for consumers.

“All that scale would give Comcast enormous discretion over what reaches Americans, what Americans pay, information flows, customer service—really unlimited power,” says Susan Crawford is co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Crawford also says President Barack Obama's push to have broadband providers regulated like utilities signaled the government would step up its scrutiny.

But Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey thinks regulators are taking an overly narrow view. He doubts a Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger would've kept other players out of the lucrative broadband market.

“Because broadband is going to generate billions of dollars of revenue and billions of dollars of profit in the next ten years, broadband competition is going to happen,” says McQuivey.

McQuivey says that means companies like Google, Amazon and even Facebook could eventually be motivated to enter the fray.

 

 

 

 

PODCAST: The merger that never was

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 03:00

The Comcast and Time Warner Cable deal is officially off. More on that. Plus, it's been two years since a terrible collapse of a clothing factory in Bangladesh, killing more than 1,100 workers. Among the findings was that workers there had recognized things were wrong with the building a day before the collapse, but factory owners demanded the workers go back in. There have been various moves to improve working conditions in the years since, and one of the key recommendations was to make it easier to set up unions in Bangladesh. Now, the questions remains: if they had been given a stronger voice, the workers might have been able to refuse to go back into the building.

Silicon Tally: A Whale of a Tail Emoji

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 03:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by Fred Benenson, data lead at Kickstarter and the creator of an all-emoji translation of Moby Dick.

var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-04-24", placeholder: "pd_1429884013" } ); (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'));

A Century After Atrocities Against Armenians, An Unresolved Wound

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 02:31

Some 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported in the violence unleashed by Ottoman Turks starting in 1915. Turkey and Armenia still disagree on how to define these terrible events.

» E-Mail This

The Plot Of 'The Black Netflix's' First Movie Is As Provocative As Its Stars

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 02:07

The Urban Movie Channel, created by BET founder, Robert L. Johnson, is being touted as "the black Netflix." This week, it releases the first original movie, Blackbird.

» E-Mail This

Puerto Rico could run out of money in three months

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 02:00

Puerto Rico finance officials warn a government shutdown may be only months away. Puerto Rico is saddled with $70 billion in debt and has been unable to sell the billions in bonds it needs to avoid running out of money.

Heidie Calero, a business consultant there, says the question is whether Puerto Rico's lawmakers will overhaul the tax system.

"Right now we have so many suspense stories that it's really terrible," she says.

This crisis didn't happen overnight. Government spending has outpaced revenue for years. U.S. tax breaks made the island attractive for businesses, and Puerto Rico had itself a moment. Those tax credits ended, but spending went on.

"From investment grade that we were before, a very coveted financial paper, we are now the status of junk," Calero says.

Luiz Mesquita, a business professor at Arizona State, blames mismanagement. Take the troubled Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which is state run.

"And because of these mismanagements, you see the cost of energy for local businesses to go up significantly," he says.

And when it's expensive to do business in Puerto Rico, companies just don't see the appeal anymore.

Audio for this story is forthcoming.

What's in a $12 minimum wage?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 02:00

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, is expected to introduce a new proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. 

Why $12? President Barack Obama used his 2013 State of the Union address to call for raising it from $7.25, its current rate, to $9 an hour. But in his 2014 address, he bumped that up to $10.10 an hour. "$10.10," the President said. "It's easy to remember $10.10."

In the meantime, a fast food workers' movement has been pushing for a $15 an hour wage, and Chicago and Seattle raised theirs to $13 and $15, respectively.

"The good news is ... we are going to learn more about how local labor markets adjust to higher minimum wages," says Arindrajit Dube, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

That's because Chicago and Seattle's hikes will be the highest ever in the U.S.

As for Senator Murray's $12 minimum wage bill: it would increase 75 cents to $8 in 2016, then a dollar more each year until it reaches $12 in 2020. 

Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution, says it's unlikely to pass in this congress, but "very large majorities of the public believe the minimum wage is too low and we would be better off if we raised it." 

Apple Watch makes its fashionable debut

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 02:00

Apple releases its much-anticipated watch on Friday.

Some customers will start receiving their online orders in the mail. And those willing to pay up to $17,000 for an 18-karat gold version can buy one at one of several high-end fashion boutiques that sell it in just a few cities around the globe, including Paris, London and Los Angeles.

With its price, exclusivity, limited supply and courting of celebrities, Apple has adopted branding techniques from the luxury world.

The company sent watches in advance of the debut to celebrities with fashion influence, including singer Beyonce, who was photographed wearing a gold Apple Watch.

As it has done with other products, Apple is also emphasizing quality. With its high-end gold watch, it's even staking a premium on the gold itself. In a company video, Apple's chief designer Jony Ive said the gold was a special composite.

"Each is a custom alloy, designed to be not only beautiful, but up to twice as hard as standard gold," Ive said.

Even trying on the gold watch at an Apple store is an unusual shopping experience. The expensive watches are kept under lock and key, and are followed around the store by a guard.

Milton Pedraza, who heads the consulting firm Luxury Institute, says Apple has adopted luxury brand techniques in order to further position itself — through its watch — above its competitors and so it won't be forced to compete in price. 

At the same time, associating the Apple Watch with high-end fashion could make it more likely that people will buy the cheaper version to associate with the higher-priced one.

"You create this level of exclusivity ... and therefore it has, what we would call, a halo effect. It makes it more compelling ... more desired," says Pedraza.

In its first week of pre-orders, Apple sold 1.4 million watches online, according to Slice Intelligence, an e-commerce research firm. Less than one percent of those pre-orders were the expensive gold watches.

But Apple's high-fashion positioning also has to do with the tricky nature of wearable technologies.

"It could be the most amazing technology in the world, but if it doesn't look good, it's dead in the water," says James Letourneau, who helps run Design.UX, an online company that sells colorful fabric covers for Fitbit movement trackers.

He says once you wear a device, it becomes intensely personal.

"They can't just be an accelerometer in a little box that people walk around in," Letourneau says. "People want it to look nice. And they don't want it to look like everyone else's."

The cable giant that wasn't

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 01:59
$45.2 billion

That's what a merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have been worth. But Comcast, in light of scrutiny, abandoned the takeover Friday morning. The deal would have united two largest cable companies in the U.S. and created a telecommunication giant.

18 karat

That's the ratio of gold in the luxury version of the Apple Watch. The price tag? Up to $17,000. Apple officially released its smart watches Friday, and some of customers will start receiving their online orders in the mail. In addition to the regular Apple stores in your local mall, you can also find the wearable technology in select fashion boutiques around the world. Still not sure which model to get? Take our quiz.

4.6 billion

That's how much Amazon's cloud computing business made last year, and they're expecting to rake in $6.23 billion this year. The retailer revealed the numbers behind Amazon Web Services for the first time Tuesday. Wired notes the cloud is high-margin, and growing faster than Amazon's other arms, but plenty of companies are lining up to take a piece of the expanding market.  

Three months

This is how long Puerto Rico has before the government runs out of money. Saddled with $70 billion debt, the U.S. territory faces tough decisions in budget cuts. Finance officials warned that a government shutdown may be in place if the government cannot reduce spending and increase revenue. And unlike Detroit, for example, Puerto Rico doesn't have the luxury of U.S. bankruptcy protection.

2007

That's the year Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia first conceived Airbnb, the hospitality start-up that has gone on to become a multi-billion dollar business with shared rentals worldwide. We visited company headquarters in San Francisco recently to talk with Chesky about the service's rapid growth, recent controversies and just what kind of company Airbnb is anyway.

$12

That's the new federal minimum wage proposed by Senator Patty Murray of Washington. The bill would up wages 75 cents to $8 in 2016, then a dollar more each year until it reaches $12 in 2020. 

A cable giant falls

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 01:59
$45.2 billion

That would be the worth Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger. But on Friday morning, Comcast, in light of scrutiny, abandoned the takeover of Time Warner Cable. The deal would have united two largest cable companies in the U.S. and created a telecommunication giant.

18 karat

That's the ratio of gold in the luxury version of the Apple Watch. The price tag? A hefty $17,000. Apple officially released its smart watches today, and some of customers will start receiving their online orders in the mail. In addition to the regular Apple stores in your local mall, you can also find the wearable technology in select fashion boutiques around the world. 

4.6 billion

That's how much Amazon's cloud computing business made last year, and they're expecting to rake in $6.23 billion this year. The retailer revealed the numbers behind Amazon Web Services for the first time Tuesday. Wired notes the cloud is high-margin, and growing faster than Amazon's other arms, but plenty of companies are lining up to take a piece of the expanding market.  

three months

This is how long Puerto Rico has before the government runs out of money. Saddled with $70 billion debt, the U.S. territory faces tough decisions in budget cuts. Finance officials warned that a government shutdown may be in place if the government cannot reduce spending and increase revenue. And unlike a city like Detroit, Puerto Rico doesn't have the luxury of U.S. bankruptcy protection.

2007

That's the year Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia first conceived Airbnb, the hospitality start-up that has gone on to become a multi-billion dollar business with shared rentals worldwide. We visited company headquarters in San Francisco recently to talk with Chesky about the service's rapid growth, recent controversies and just what kind of company Airbnb is anyway.

$12

That's the new federal minimum wage proposed by Senator Patty Murray of Washington. The bill would increase 75 cents to $8 in 2016, then a dollar more each year until it reaches $12 in 2020. 

Clinton Faces Bad Headlines And More Questions Of Scandal

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 01:03

From questions surrounding the Clinton family foundation to a congressional investigation into Benghazi, Hillary Clinton's campaign is pushing back against allegations of scandal.

» E-Mail This

As Governors Eye The White House, Home Takes A Back Seat

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 01:03

Governing is messy, but slumping approval ratings for hopefuls like Scott Walker and Chris Christie likely won't have much impact on the presidential contest.

» E-Mail This

China's Latest Target: Funeral Strippers

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 00:55

In some parts of rural China and in Taiwan, hiring strippers to perform at the funeral of a loved one isn't considered absurd, but a good idea.

» E-Mail This

Will Apple's Newest Gadget Ignite A Smart Watch Movement?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 00:30

As Apple's smart watch goes on sale, there are some big questions about the whole idea of the wrist watch as a computer, including whether consumers come to see them as a luxury or a necessity.

» E-Mail This

After 25 Years, The Hubble Space Telescope Still Wows Humanity

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-23 23:56

Launched shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Hubble telescope isn't showing its age. Astronomers and other fans hope this old charmer will be useful for many years to come.

» E-Mail This

Has The Senate Found It's More Fun To Be Functional?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-23 23:54

If this Senate is getting some traction, it's not yet a threat to anyone's legislative hall of fame. Much higher hurdles loom, including highway funding, spending bills and the debt ceiling.

» E-Mail This

Has The Senate Found It's More Fun To Be Functional?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-23 23:54

If this Senate is getting some traction, it's not yet a threat to anyone's legislative hall of fame. Much higher hurdles loom, including highway funding, spending bills and the debt ceiling.

» E-Mail This

Pages