National News

The numbers for October 21, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 08:20

McDonald's and Coca-Cola both reported disappointing earnings Tuesday morning, with 30 percent and 14 percent drops in revenue respectively. Both companies saw declining sales in the U.S. and Europe, and the fast food chain is still grappling with a scandal in China.

Yahoo's earnings call is expected after markets close today, it's make-or-break for CEO Marissa Mayer, who will likely address the company's acquisition strategy and stake in Alibaba.

Here are some more stories we're reading, and other numbers we're watching, Tuesday.

5

Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, last year. Pistorius' lawyer said the Olympian could only serve 10 months before being placed under house arrest. The sentence was handed down by the second black woman to become a high court judge in South Africa, Thokozile Masipa.

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 The number of YouTube stars appearing in a new collaboration between Google and Lionsgate to promote the studio's new "Hunger Games" movie, AdAge reported. It's a high-profile push into branded entertainment for YouTube, and just the latest example of a big corporation exploring the value of Internet celebrities. 

$50 million

That's how much Kansas City could potentially make once business from the run-up to the World Series and the games themselves are all totaled. But other expenses, like the $225,000 parade thrown by San Francisco when the Giants won in 2012, have some questioning whether the costs involved in hosting a large sporting event mean the benefits are more modest than projected.

2

That's how many "Notorious R.B.G." shirts Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has given to NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg. Ginsberg is apparently relishing in her meme status, and has collected "quite a large supply" of the shirts.

Israeli Homes, Decorated With A Shopping Spree In China

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 08:12

Some Israelis are flying to China to buy most everything they need to furnish a home. They say it's cheaper than buying in Israel, though there are also cautionary tales of shopping trips gone wrong.

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Can Hand-Cut, Artisanal Ice Make Your Cocktail That Much Better?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 07:51

If you're sipping craft cocktails, your fancy $15 drink might now come with fancy ice. It's bigger, clearer and allegedly better tasting than the regular stuff made with tap water.

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A Hong Kong Protest Camp Spawns Its Own Art

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 07:47

Pro-democracy street art inspired by sources ranging from Les Miserables to John Lennon fill an open-air museum of sorts that has cropped up in Hong Kong.

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A Tale Of Two Cities: World Series Fever Takes Hold In SF, KC

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 07:27

In San Francisco, there's a lot of confidence. In Kansas City, which gets its first shot at the championship rings in nearly 30 years, the excitement is palpable.

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Volunteer Recap: Why Wearing The Right Shoes In Rio Matters

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 06:35

When medical student Robert Snyder visited Rio de Janeiro last summer to do volunteer work, he learned the hard way that Birkenstock clogs are not a wise footwear choice.

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More Insurers Put Spending Limits On Medical Treatments

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 06:14

To contain costs, some plans are capping how much they will pay for certain routine procedures, such as knee replacements. Patients can be on the hook for anything over the limit.

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The legacy of Oscar de la Renta

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 06:00

Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta died at age 82 on Monday. His clothes were well-liked by celebrities, by politicians, and also by many professionals who admired his sensibility and his style.

Vanessa Friedman, fashion critic and the fashion director for The New York Times, is someone who closely followed de la renta's career, and joined us to talk about his lasting legacy.

Click the media player above to hear Vanessa Friedman in conversation with Marketplace's David Gura.

McDonald's earnings are less than super-sized

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 05:00

Fast Food juggernaut McDonald’s released its earnings Tuesday. The company’s share price is less than super-sized. Comparative global sales dropped 3.3 percent in the third quarter. The Q3 report comes on the heels of the company’s troubles in China, where suppliers reportedly sold expired meat to stores.

As a result sales were down significantly in Asia, and the company upped spending on marketing to reassure customers that its food was safe.

But the bigger threat to McDonald’s is the drop U.S. and European sales, says Sara Senatore, a senior research analyst at Sanford Bernstein: “Same store sales declined pretty meaningfully in both regions."

Analyst Howard Penney attributes much of the sales slump to McCafe, the company’s rebranding of the old fashioned hamburger stand into something more Parisian shall we say. “They over indexed themselves to beverages in McCafe and that really changed the structure of the business and complicated the back of the house,” says Penney.

CEO Don Thompson acknowledged the company’s troubles in Asia the U.S. He also blamed the diluted earnings on a higher effective tax rate.

When Women Stopped Coding

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 04:54

For decades, the share of women majoring in computer science was rising. Then, in the 1980s, something changed.

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Opera About 1985 Achille Lauro Hijacking Draws Protests At Met

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 04:41

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was among those who denounced The Death of Klinghoffer by John Adams, calling it anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

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CEO Of French Oil Giant Total Dies In Plane Accident

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 03:53

Christophe de Margerie, 63, and three other people died when his private plane collided with a snowplow at an airport in Moscow.

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Hong Kong Leader Hints At Concessions As Talks With Students Begin

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 03:12

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying says his government cannot allow open nominations for his successor, but suggests there's room for compromise on the makeup of a committee to select candidates.

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PODCAST: Lots to gain and lose from the World Series

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 03:00

Yahoo posts its third quarter earnings today and the company CEO Marissa Meyer looks set to provide new information on how the company will evaluate possible acquisitions and cost cutting measures. Meyer has come under increasing pressure of late. What does Meyer need to do to keep her investors happy and is her strategy working? And the designer Oscar de la Renta passed away yesterday at the age of 82. We speak with Vanessa Friedman, fashion critic and fashion director for the New York Times, about de la Renta's career. Plus, we always hear that hosting a major sporting event, like the Olympics or the World Cup, will mean bigger revenues for host cities. But there are costs as well. Security, disruptions of traffic and daily routines, and even the price tag of a victory parade eat away at that extra revenue. We tally up the potential costs and benefits of baseball greatness.

In Tight Races, Both Parties Bank On Early Votes

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 02:45

Two million people have already voted in next month's election, including President Obama. Locking in votes early is huge, particularly since control of the Senate rests in a handful of close races.

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Some Millennials — And Their Parents — Are Slow To Cut The Cord

NPR News - Tue, 2014-10-21 02:40

Millennials get a lot of financial and emotional support from their parents, which critics say causes delayed adolescence. But actually this close relationship benefits both kids and parents.

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Is now make or break for Yahoo's Marissa Mayer?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 02:00

Yahoo’s stock is down, and shareholders are demanding change.

The company scheduled a third-quarter earnings call which means it's make-or-break for CEO Marissa Mayer.

“She’s had two years and the strategies put in place have not worked,” says Brian Wieser, an analyst with Pivotal Research Group

One of those strategies that Wieser says hasn’t worked? Buying up more than a dozen other companies.

"Well, the problem is they bought the wrong ones," he says.

Wieser says Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr has yet to pay off. Investors also want to know what Yahoo will do with profits on the sale of Alibaba stock, and how to save money on taxes. And they also want to know how Yahoo will compete with Facebook and Google.

“They could build original content. They could build and invest into the underlying technology for display advertisements. They could acquire a company that has success in mobile,” says Colin Gillis, a senior technology analyst at BGC Partners.

Gillis says shareholders will give Mayer another six months or so to prove she can turn Yahoo around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liberians in U.S. feel Ebola's social, economic impact

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 02:00

Telee Brown counts out a stack of twenty dollar bills on the counter of at a Western Union on Staten Island, home to one of the largest Liberian communities in the U.S.

“I’m sending money to Liberia,” he tells the teller. “What’s the fee? $10.50?”

Brown has lived in Staten Island for about 15 years now, but many of his family and friends are still in Liberia, one of the countries hardest hit by Ebola. Nearly 2,500 people had died there from the disease by mid October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been only three diagnosed cases of Ebola in the U.S. — none in New York. But while the outbreak has largely been limited to West Africa, local communities are feeling the effects of this disease in other ways.

For example, Brown recently started sending back about $300 a month — double what he used to — and he’s fundraising for the Staten Island Liberians Ebola Fund.

Brown says basic items have become much more expensive in Liberia and members of his family there are staying home from work. Which means they aren't earning, and they need his support.

“My cousins who cannot go out in the street to sell water definitely are calling me on a daily basis, [saying,] ‘Oh uncle Telee, how am I going to make it? I don’t have food,’” he says.

But coming up with extra money each month for family members in Liberia, is making things tight for Brown and his family in New York.

“It makes me reduce the amount of milk that I used to drink,” he says. “If I maybe ate three times a day, I have to save on a meal and eat two times a day.”

Those kinds of cutbacks can have ripple effects in the local economy.

Brown has reduced his visits to an outdoor market that sells traditional West African food like hot sauces and cooked meats.

“Nobody got money to buy food here to eat,” says vendor Sonnie Selma, explaining that many regular customers are sending all their money back to family members. She says now she’s worried about paying rent.

But it’s not just the lack of money that’s keeping people away.

Solomon Reeves, a child care specialist who’s been fundraising to send money and medical supplies back to Liberia, says there’s also a lot of fear about who might have traveled to West Africa recently.

“Because of the Ebola, people don’t really come [to the market] the way they used to come here,” he says. “They’re afraid.”

Before he came to the market, Reeves said his wife told him to be careful; he noticed recently that a friend didn’t want to shake his hand; and there have been a couple of reports of Liberians being told to stay home from work.

The entire Liberian community here is suffering economically and socially because of this disease, even though the closest diagnosed case is well over a thousand miles away.

@College Let me in! #prettyplease

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 02:00

It's college-tour season, and everyone is a reviewer on Twitter:

As much as I liked UIC, I probably had the worst and least informed tour guide imaginable. #Please #Learnyourschool #AndEtiquette

— Hayden T. Balduf (@HBalduf) October 15, 2014

Just witnessed the worst guided tour of Messiah College, all that was said in a few minute time span was "that is our green house"

— William Wical (@willwical) October 13, 2014

k so my college tour guide for UCSB was kind of like....the biggest babe ever to exist pic.twitter.com/quXGFrmxbR

— abbey (@AbbeyxBlanford) June 24, 2014

Be it bad or babealicious, college admissions officers are paying attention to all that sharing.

"Institutions of higher education are most definitely reviewing that to find out how they are being evaluated," says Jeff Fuller, director of student recruitment for the University of Houston and President of the National Association for College Admission Counseling

Fuller says if a kid has a bad experience on campus, an engaged admissions officer can respond fast; before a nasty tweet dings a school’s reputation.

"More and more colleges are hiring folks to manage their social media to make sure they remain current in what’s being discussed," Fuller says.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s admissions office has a small army working on social media.

"We have two blogs, we have multiple Facebook accounts, we have a Twitter account, we have an Instagram account," says Ashley Memory, an assistant director of admissions. 

There are three admissions officers and as many as four paid interns managing and creating content for those accounts.  

Memory says there is a little risk involved in having all these open forums—There will always be disappointed applicants.

More often than not, she says, negative comments are neutralized by the broader community of current UNC students or alumni.  

The main job of college admissions officers on social media is to communicate with potential students. First, they try to convince them to apply to their school. Then, if they are accepted, they convince them to attend.

Part of that job involves answering a lot of basic questions.

"Before they may have just picked up the phone and called our office, or may have sent our office an email, or they may have sought out the answer for themselves online," says Gabe Santi, from the admission office at Michigan State University. "Now, they may just post the question on Facebook or tweet at us." 

Can Michigan State tell me if I got accepted or not already #impatient

— sophia. (@samm_jamm) October 20, 2014

@samm_jamm Thanks for your patience!

— MSU Admissions (@msu_admissions) October 20, 2014

Is the World Series a boon for the hosts' economies?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-10-21 02:00

The Major League Baseball World Series gets started Tuesday in Kansas City, between that city’s Royals and the San Francisco Giants. And, as in past years, both cities involved are hoping for an economic boost.

In Kansas City’s case, as much as $50 million dollars could potentially be made once business from the run-up to the World Series and the games themselves are all added up, says Ronnie Burt, CEO of the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association. He says businesses have already been reporting improved sales.

“Hats, T-shirts, jerseys have just been selling like hotcakes,” Burt says enthusiastically. “As well as restaurants and bars, year-over-year sales have dramatically increased.”

But there are many costs associated with hosting a massive sporting event such as the World Series games, says Robert Baade, an economics professor at Lake Forest College who co-authored a report which looked at three decades’ worth of World Series economics.

“The economic impact of mega-events are exaggerated,” Baade says. “We are much better at keeping track of the benefits than we are the costs."

For example, in 2012 the city of San Francisco spent $225,000 on a victory parade, and that’s after the Giants footed the majority of the parade bill by spending a million dollars.

There are other costs, as well, Baade says, such as the cost to police departments for providing additional security, traffic and crowd control, clean-up costs, and the price of staffing additional transportation officials.

“And so there will be negative impacts from hosting a World Series, and those have to be taken into account,” says Baade.

The amount of money spent on World Series related expenditures may also be misleading, because some of that spending may be offset by non-spending in other areas of the economy.

“The normal course of commercial activity is often disrupted,” says Baade. "And if you have people in the community, residents of the World Series host, changing their normal activities — commercially speaking — that may detract economic activity in the community overall.”

Add it all up, and Baade says the study he co-authored concluded there was an overall economic benefit to cities hosting World Series games. But the benefit was modest and temporary.

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