National News

Soul Singer Percy Sledge Dies

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 07:44

Sledge is perhaps best known for his hit "When A Man Loves A Woman." He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Disease Detection Gets A Boost With Plans For A CDC In Africa

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 07:12

African health officials are partnering with the U.S. to build a continent-wide Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is a more rapid response to health emergencies, such as Ebola.

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Make more upfront: Viacom, Turner discuss new ad model

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 07:09

In the coming weeks, a dance between the companies that make the television shows we all love, and the people who pay for it all: the advertisers.

Upfronts, as they're called, happen each year in New York, and the name says it all. Networks pitch their programming to ad buyers, hoping to score a big budget up front. The typical measure that they're selling is a Nielsen rating, the total number of viewers broken down by age and gender. That's why we hear so much about categories like men aged 18-34 for programs like "The Daily Show."

But in an ad world infused by the many clicks and Tweets of social media, that may not be enough. Upfront sales have been flat, declining slightly in recent years. 

Variety reports that Time Warner and Viacom have a new strategy. Both are in talks to guarantee specific outcomes from an ad campaign, not just the average number of eyeballs it will get.

"They are saying, 'Look, tell us what you need. Do you need more foot traffic in your restaurant? Do you need more people to sign up for your loyalty program? Do you need X number of retweets on Twitter? Tell us what you want and let's try to work it out together,'" said Brian Steinberg, senior TV editor for Variety. 

That's a big shift from delivering a sizeable audience, and it relies on using more of the advertisers' own data, beyond what Nielsen can offer. Companies can compare email lists or loyalty swipes with geographic information pulled from set-top boxes to see who's really responding to the ads, and where. 

It's a methodology directly affected by the popularity of tablets and online video -- and the smaller, more targeted audiences that advertisers are reaching there. Likewise, Time Warner is looking to test this strategy for smaller, more targeted broadcast channels like Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, whose younger audiences are fairly well-defined. 

In the words of one marketing executive who talked to Steinberg, this is "the Holy Grail of advertising."

"For years, [advertisers] have long decried TV," he said. Despite big audience figures, there's little nuance. "You may blast a car ad on 'American Idol,' but how many of those people are in the market for a new car?"

Nielsen is a little nervous about this, Steinberg added. While it's still the dominant way ads are sold, the ratings don't capture the places people watch TV outside of the living room. 

Digital Tools For Health Come With 'Hope, Hype And Harm'

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 06:51

Medicine's move into the computer age has great potential for improving care. But patients and doctors still face serious challenges in adapting to the rush of new technology.

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Famed Mountain Lion Seeks Comfort Under An LA Home

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 06:33

P-22, as the mountain lion is known, typically lives in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. Attempts to dislodge him from under the home have failed.

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Little-known tax deductions that can save you money

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 06:08

Sam Weiner and Daniel Kibblesmith are the authors of the book, “How to Win At Everything. They came on the show Tuesday to dole out some tax advice.

Tax day is almost here, and Uncle Sam is coming for your hard-earned dollars, to fritter away on wasteful roads and firehouses. Here are the lesser-known tax loopholes and deductions that will save you a fortune on this year's tax bill:

Everyone knows married couples get a variety of tax breaks, so why not slash your tax bill even further by marrying as many people as you can by April 15th? Your husbands and wives will agree there's nothing sexier than financial prudence.

You're also probably familiar with the Child Tax Credit, but you're not limited to your own kids! If you've disciplined a stranger's unruly child in a grocery store or on an airplane, you're not just a hero — you can also claim that child as a dependent!

Do you ever work from home? Do you ever spend long sleepless nights thinking about work? Does worrying about work consume your every waking moment? Good news! The inside of your mind may qualify as a home office.

What about small business owners? If you've trained your dog to work at your small business, the IRS owes you a $2,000 Canine In The Workplace Credit.

Finally, you can deduct all sorts of surprising things — home internet, business lunches, business funerals, museum-quality rocks, and most importantly, any money you'd rather just hang on to for yourself. After all, you earned it.

Besides, if the government really wants more money, they can always just print it themselves.

Scientists Release Largest Map Yet Of Dark Matter In The Cosmos

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 04:58

Researchers from the Dark Energy Survey used data captured by one of the world's most powerful digital cameras to put together the largest contiguous map of dark matter created.

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Atlanta Teachers Convicted In Cheating Scandal Await Sentencing

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 03:48

A judge on Monday gave the 10 defendants a chance to negotiate with prosecutors. They each face up to 20 years in prison for their role in the largest cheating scandal in U.S. education.

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Senate Panel Weighs Bill Giving Congress Final OK On Iran Deal

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 03:10

A vote in the Foreign Relations Committee could come as soon as today. The White House has threatened a veto, saying any congressional action could imperil talks with Iran on its nuclear program.

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'Clintonomics' Ruled The 1990s; 'Hillarynomics' Would Be Different

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 03:03

The name "Clinton" remains magic for many Americans who got jobs, bought homes and invested savings in the 1990s. But key elements of "Clintonomics" may not be popular with today's Democratic voters.

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Shopping in euro

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 03:00

Airing on Tuesday, April 14, 2015: We were out buying new sheets and pillow cases, khaki pants, Adirondack chairs, Ford Fusions and two by fours last month. That's what the numbers suggest from the Commerce Department this morning, with retail sales up 9-10ths percent in March. Analysts see this as new evidence it was the rotten winter holding back consumers earlier in the year. Plus, U.S. Congress today will get an update on the F-35 jet, a program not yet in service but one estimated to cost a trillion dollars over its lifetime. More on that. How the strong dollar makes countries in the eurozone attractive destinations for American tourists. 

The button that's got everyone clicking

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

The Reddit “Button” that started out as an April fool’s prank has turned into an internet obsession. As of this writing, nearly 750,000 people have pushed it.

What exactly is it? It's a button with a timer that counts back from 60 seconds. Anyone who had a Reddit account before the day the button launched can push the button and reset the clock. But they can only push once. And no one knows what happens if the clock gets to zero.  

So what’s the big deal? “I think the short answer is, there’s a lot of reasons,” said Kelly Goldsmith, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Northwestern University. She’s been reading what a lot of people have said online about their experience of pushing the button, which range from competition to status.

“But it also seems like there’s a strong sense of affiliation and a strong sense of community,” said Goldsmith. “But on the other hand, it could just be driven by curiosity.”

Curiosity about when the next person is going to push it? Or how long it’s going to keep going? Or what might happen if no one pushed it?

“That’s really what keeps it so mesmerizing,” said Goldsmith.

Although a strong sense of community is making people push the button, Goldsmith said, “the motivating power of curiosity” was part of it too.

“I don’t think gets enough attention in the academic literature, but it’s (curiosity) definitely a strong driving force,” said Goldsmith.

When she first heard about it, she admits she was in favor of people banding together not to push the button so they could see what would happen. But since then she’s changed her mind because she think so many people working together to keep the button going is a positive affiliation. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to push the button right away.

“I would absolutely be of the group that waits to get the clock as low as possible,” said Goldsmith. “Again, just for curiosity's sake. How low can it go? What would happen if no one pushed it?”

 

Lessons From the F-35

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

How did the Pentagon's F-35 fighter jet program, which was originally thought up as a way to cut costs, end up becoming the most expensive weapons program in history?

Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says policymakers boxed themselves into this expensive fighter jet. "By canceling the F-22 air superiority fighter," Eaglen said, "it made the F-35 fighter the only fighter option available to the Pentagon." 

Eaglen says the original concept behind the JSF program—that creating a single, unified aircraft for all branches of the military would lower costs—has been discredited. "It's never truly joint; these are fraternal twins," Eaglen said. 

Ben FitzGerald, Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, says today the debate all centers around one question: "how do we manage the cost."

Canceling the F-35 is no longer an option, he said, because the Pentagon has put all its eggs in one basket.

Strong dollar lures Americans to Europe

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

If you’ve been thinking about visiting Europe, but haven’t wanted to pay top dollar, now is a pretty good time to take out your wallet. With the dollar creeping up on the euro, American tourists are modifying their summer itineraries.

University of Texas-Austin student Neena Malhotra is taking advantage of the weaker euro. She’s planning on traveling to Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and Spain.

The price of everything from paella to train tickets has dropped –

“And when looking at the prices to determine whether it is a good idea or not,” she says, “it seemed more feasible than it had another time we had tried to do it.”

According to TripAdvisor, the average nightly rate for a European hotel this summer is $133. That’s compared to $164 last year. And the average cost of a one-week European trip has dropped by 11 percent.

Kathryn O’Kane of Brooklyn had budgeted $200 plus a night in Madrid and Basque Country.

“We were pleasantly surprised to find hotels about $100 a night,” she says.

And with the extra pocket money, O’Kane says her family will be able to do a lot more shopping, and take advantage of opportunities to see Spanish Guitar or Flamenco. That will no doubt please a lot of local businesses in Europe. 

The dollar’s surge will also benefit travel agencies and tour companies. Paul Wiseman is president of Trafalgar Guided Vacations.

“We're having a very good year to Europe,” Wiseman says. “We’re seeing double digit growth in Italy and Great Britain and I’m sure that’s on the back of a very strong U.S. dollar.”

But is a 90 cent cheaper café au lait enough to tempt people to go to Paris instead of Mexico?

Who better to ask than Paula Serrano, a travel agent in the city of Paris, Texas.

“No, [travel] has not picked up,” Serrano says. “I sell more Mexico than anything.”

After all, in Cancun a dollar gets you not just one, but fifteen pesos.

What GE tells us about big bank earnings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

On Tuesday, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo begin a week of big bank earnings reports. But we got a preview of the state of the big banks last week, when GE announced it would wind down and sell off most of the assets of the seventh-largest bank: GE Capital. 

"The primary lesson is: If you don't have to be a bank, don't be one," says Fred Cannon, global director of research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Cannon also says the fact that GE is selling most of the financial assets to smaller institutions is an indication of what sector will see faster growth in the years to come. 

But bank analyst Nancy Bush says there is one area where the so-called “universal banks” have an edge this quarter: Trading on the volatility in the currency and commodities markets.

 

 

 

 

Winner takes all (minus the taxes)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 02:00

Last week, one of my colleagues was sounding a little tense as he set out to work on his taxes. Radio producer Josh Woo fills in here as a director on the Marketplace Morning Report and the thing is during 2014 tax year, Josh won big on a TV game show. Four years earlier, Josh had also won prizes on another show, The Price is Right, and a dozen years before that, when just a kid, Josh won two grand on Jeopardy. With Josh's tax return now signed and delivered, I wanted to see if with all this experience, if he managed to avoid the classic mistake or forgetting to pay estimated tax on extra income. 

Click on the multimedia player above to hear more on what Josh's big win means to him this tax season. 

 

Tomorrow is your big day

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 01:00
6 percent

That's how now-official presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has been polling, on average, for the past few months. While he's a low-performer in the crowded GOP field, FiveThirtyEight argues Rubio belongs in contention with presumed GOP front-runners like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Rubio has a history of beating expectations and winning important party endorsements, says analyst Harry Enten, and he could be a very electable, middle-of-the-road option for voters.

1: 1.05

That's the euro-dollar exchange rate this morning. If you've been thinking about visiting Europe, but haven't wanted to pay top dollar, now is a pretty good time to take out your wallet. The attractive exchange rate is making everything from paella to rail tickets cheaper. 

$2,815

The average tax refund at the beginning of April, about $20 more than this time last tax season. All told, the IRS refunded about $374 billion last year. So why do so many people overpay? Turns out it has a lot to do with taxpayer psychology. We looked into it as part of our series, "I've Always Wondered..."

April 15, 2015

Speaking of taxes, April 15 is the IRS tax filing deadline. As if you didn't already know. Our own producer Josh Woo was the winner on Wheel of Fortune in the 2014 tax year. And with his tax return now signed and delivered, we look at what his game show victory meant for him this tax season. 

1995

The year Lynda Weinman started Lynda.com with her husband Bruce Heavin. Born out of Weinman's do-it-yourself web design books, Lynda was bought by Linkedin last week for $1.5 billion. The Wall Street Journal has Weinman's story, from doing special effects on "RoboCop 2" to shaping the current landscape of ed-tech.

5.6 percent

That's how much Nokia's stock went down on the Helsinki Stock Exchange today after news broke that the company is looking to buy Alcatel Lucent of France. While negotiations could always break down, Alcatel stock is up 12 percent in Paris now. And there are a few strands of American DNA in there. Lucent is descendent of the old AT&T, bell labs, the people who invented the laser. 

As Country Changes, Rubio, Republicans Try To Adjust

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 01:00

On gay rights and immigration, Republicans running for president, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, are trying to navigate a tricky course between their party and the country at-large.

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Republicans Are Making Foreign Policy The Obamacare Of The 2016 Election

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 01:00

The GOP still has the health care law in its sights, but now also promises to do away with Obama's opening to Cuba and nascent deal on nuclear development with Iran.

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A warning on the bond market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-04-14 00:49

The Fed came out with a warning this week about the bond market. Fed executive Vice President Simon Potter expressed concerns that extreme volatility like the October “flash crash” could become more common, perhaps the result of high frequency trading, or more surprisingly, too much regulation. Simon Potter doesn’t know exactly what caused the October spike. It could be because of high speed trading. Or because reforms enacted by regulators after the financial crisis, like increasing the amount of capital banks hold, could have unintentionally created more volatility.

The bond Flash Crash happened past October, actually wasn’t a crash at all, it was the opposite, a spike. In a 15 minute period, the yield on the 10-year treasury jumped more than two percent, which may not sound like a lot, but statistically speaking it was a price swing that should only happen once every 1.6 billion years.

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