National / International News

Post bankruptcy, corporations see Detroit as a bargain

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

2014 was a big year for Detroit. It was the year the city emerged from bankruptcy, shed a crippling load of debt and saw a renewal of interest from outside investors.

Despite the positive buzz, 2015 will be another year of challenges for the motor city, as it seeks to continue creating jobs, while also slowly starting the process of rebuilding neighborhoods.

But, if you’re looking for proof that the “Detroit brand” still sells, take a look at Shinola. The epitome of hipster chic, the company makes thousand-dollar watches and high end leather goods.

Shinola moved to Detroit in 2013 with the idea of tapping into a kind of collective pining for America’s blue collar manufacturing past. Its big idea was that “Made in Detroit” would sell better than “Made in America,” and it was right.

"Often it is positioned that Shinola has done something wonderful for Detroit,” says Shinola CEO Steve Bock. “The reality of the situation is that Detroit has done a wonderful job of helping Shinola get off the ground; we are very, very happy with our decision to come here."

Shinola employs 350 people, with 260 actually based in Detroit. The company has plans to add 5 to 6 new stores in 2015. Following the resolution of the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy, many investors and corporations now see Detroit as a bargain.

Despite all the positive trends, Detroit’s unemployment rate still is still hovering around 14 percent—roughly twice the state average.

"There's no magic jobs fairy and so someone's got to be able to create jobs and to create jobs you need capital,” says Crain’s Detroit Business Editor Amy Haimerl. Unlike previous “Come to Jesus” moments for the city, this time she says Detroit can’t ignore the need for investment in small and medium-sized businesses.

"In the past, it was always about tax breaks and get the big company to come in from somewhere else,” she says. “That's wonderful, but we're also focusing on the other end of jobs creation which are neighborhood businesses, small businesses which may only hire 3 or 4 people at a time."

Job growth is one thing, but for many Detroiters the first step forward is as simple as streetlights — close to half of which haven’t worked in years. This has been a particular problem for restaurants and shops.

“So a lot of businesses had to cut down their hours, because after a certain time there was no business,” says Esteban Perez. Perez is manager of La Terezza Mexican restaurant in Southwest Detroit.

Detroit is now turning on some 500 new LED streetlights per week. And Perez says other, small but big things are happening, too. Trash is getting picked up, police response times are decreasing, and things he says, just seem better.

“You know we're all coming together as a city,” he says. “So right now, Detroit is the place to be, whether you want to open up a business, whether you want to buy a house."

In terms of housing, blight remains a huge challenge for Detroit. As many as 40,000 properties are slated for demolition. The city’s land bank is auctioning the few that remain salvageable, and it just announced a new program to sell vacant homes to city employees and retirees at half price.

Why the internet is a luxury in Cuba

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

After 50 years, the United States and Cuba announced in December that they plan to normalize relations. It’s too early to tell what this will mean exactly, but U.S. companies are eager to start doing business with Cuba—Especially telecom companies that see opportunities to build infrastructure in one of the least connected countries in the world.

Ted Henken, Chair of Baruch College’s Sociology and Anthropology Departments and co-author of Entrepreneurial Cuba: The Changing Policy Landscape, says expense is a huge factor in preventing Cubans from using the internet. One hour of internet service typically costs $5. That might not seem like much, but average monthly earnings in Cuba are just $20. Cuba also bans certain websites.

But none of this has stopped people from accessing the internet, says Henken. “There’s a saying in Cuba,” he adds. “Everything is prohibited but anything goes.”

The most common way people use the internet is through flash drives loaded with news and apps, which they buy every week to stay up to date. Henken says this method has “penetrated all parts of the island.”

The other options is “mesh networks," where people hook up a bunch of computers together in various neighborhoods. This allows people in the network to share information and play games

Henken sees a “broad based demand” for open access to the internet among Cubans. He says there is “a rising level of frustration, because Cubans ... they are connected to modern ideas but they can't share them easily with one another or get new ideas easily from outside the country.”

Amazon reports earnings amid frustrated investors

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

Late Thursday, Amazon will report its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2014. The internet giant’s stock has taken a beating from investors frustrated with the company’s heavy spending and not-so-heavy profits.

This despite a new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners that estimates Amazon's Prime service now has 40 million U.S. subscribers, many of them added during the holiday shopping season. 

Is it possible the company finished up the year on an upswing?

Click the media player above to hear more.

Detroit looking to build momentum in 2015

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

2014 was a big year for Detroit. It was the year the city emerged from bankruptcy, shed a crippling load of debt and saw a renewal of interest from outside investors.

Despite the positive buzz, 2015 will be another year of challenges for the motor city, as it seeks to continue creating jobs, while also slowly starting the process of rebuilding neighborhoods.

But, if you’re looking for proof that the “Detroit brand” still sells, take a look at Shinola. The epitome of hipster chic, the company makes thousand-dollar watches and high end leather goods.

Shinola moved to Detroit in 2013 with the idea of tapping into a kind of collective pining for America’s blue collar manufacturing past. Its big idea was that “Made in Detroit” would sell better than “Made in America,” and it was right.

"Often it is positioned that Shinola has done something wonderful for Detroit,” says Shinola CEO Steve Bock. “The reality of the situation is that Detroit has done a wonderful job of helping Shinola get off the ground; we are very, very happy with our decision to come here."

Shinola employs 350 people, with 260 actually based in Detroit. The company has plans to add 5 to 6 new stores in 2015. Following the resolution of the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy, many investors and corporations now see Detroit as a bargain.

Despite all the positive trends, Detroit’s unemployment rate still is still hovering around 14 percent—roughly twice the state average.

"There's no magic jobs fairy and so someone's got to be able to create jobs and to create jobs you need capital,” says Crain’s Detroit Business Editor Amy Haimerl. Unlike previous “Come to Jesus” moments for the city, this time she says Detroit can’t ignore the need for investment in small and medium-sized businesses.

"In the past, it was always about tax breaks and get the big company to come in from somewhere else,” she says. “That's wonderful, but we're also focusing on the other end of jobs creation which are neighborhood businesses, small businesses which may only hire 3 or 4 people at a time."

Job growth is one thing, but for many Detroiters the first step forward is as simple as streetlights — close to half of which haven’t worked in years. This has been a particular problem for restaurants and shops.

“So a lot of businesses had to cut down their hours, because after a certain time there was no business,” says Esteban Perez. Perez is manager of La Terezza Mexican restaurant in Southwest Detroit.

Detroit is now turning on some 500 new LED streetlights per week. And Perez says other, small but big things are happening, too. Trash is getting picked up, police response times are decreasing, and things he says, just seem better.

“You know we're all coming together as a city,” he says. “So right now, Detroit is the place to be, whether you want to open up a business, whether you want to buy a house."

In terms of housing, blight remains a huge challenge for Detroit. As many as 40,000 properties are slated for demolition. The city’s land bank is auctioning the few that remain salvageable, and it just announced a new program to sell vacant homes to city employees and retirees at half price.

Kasabian: Brits snub was a conspiracy

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:58
Sergio Pizzorno says Kasabian have been the victims of a "conspiracy" after not receiving a single Brit nomination.

Ivorian unit to hunt child killers

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:55
Police in Ivory Coast set up a special unit to investigate a series of suspected ritual killings of children and to patrol areas near schools.

Examining The Sinister Background Of Argentina's Spy Agency

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:42

The mysterious death of an Argentine prosecutor has renewed scrutiny of the country's Intelligence Secretariat, which conducts domestic surveillance on a scale reminiscent of the former Soviet Union.

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Postman suspended over terror arrest

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:34
A postman from Cardiff has been suspended from his job, following his arrest on suspicion of a terrorism offence, BBC Wales understands.

Malaysia declares MH370 an accident

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:33
Malaysia officially declares disappearance of plane in Indian Ocean in March 2014 an accident, and says all 239 people on board are presumed dead.

Airport suspends flights due to snow

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:32
Heavy snowfall forces flights at Manchester Airport to be suspended as wintry weather disrupts travel across northern England.

Flights of fancy: There's big money in drones

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:30
12 percent

How much Royal Dutch Shell reported its earnings rose in the fourth quarter, as reported by the New York Times. But as oil prices continue to plunge, some have questioned if big oil companies would pull back on exploration projects planned in the next year or so — a suspicion confirmed by chief executive Ben van Beurden, who said the company would defer some projects and cancel others. 

$9

How much ad revenue Facebook made per user in the U.S. and Canada last quarter, the Wall Street Journal reported. Revenue is up 49 percent, thanks to the company's incredible growth in mobile advertising. More than a third of users now experience Facebook solely on mobile. But it's not all good news for investors: Facebook's expenses have grown 87 percent, cutting deeply into profits.

260 workers

How many workers hipster-chic company Shinola — maker of thousand-dollar watches and leather goods — employs in Detroit. The company moved to the city in 2013 as part of a bet that "Made in Detroit" would sell better than "Made in America." So far, so good, says Shinola CEO Steve Bock. And now that Detroit's bankruptcy is settled, other businesses are seeing the Motor City as a bargain.

$16.6 million

How much eBay made selling drones over the past 10 months, Forbes reported. Sales spiked over the holidays, with the retailer moving an average of 7,600 recreational drones per week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, five times the average sales over the summer.

$80

The most start-up Plowz and Mowz will charge to clear a driveway this winter. The company expected to process 2,000 plowing jobs in Boston following this week's blizzard. Bloomberg profiled so-called "Uber for snowplows" companies, which are capitalizing on the nor'easter and trying to modernize the lucrative private plowing business.

487 bytes

The size of the world's smallest chess computer program. As reported by the BBC, the program takes up about as much space as a couple imageless tweets.

You get a drone! You get a drone! Everyone gets drones!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:30
12 percent

That's how much Royal Dutch Shell reported its earnings rose in the fourth quarter, as reported by the New York Times. But as oil prices continue to plunge, some have questioned if big oil companies would pull back on exploration projects planned in the next year or so — a suspicion confirmed by chief executive Ben van Beurden, who said the company would defer some projects and cancel others. 

$9

That's how much ad revenue Facebook made per user in the U.S. and Canada last quarter, the Wall Street Journal reported. Revenue is up 49 percent, thanks to the company's incredible growth in mobile advertising. These days more than a third of users experience Facebook solely on mobile. But it's not all good news for investors: Facebook's expenses have grown 87 percent, cutting deeply into profits.

260 workers

That's how many workers hipster-chic company Shinola—maker of thousand-dollar watches and leather goods—employs in Detroit. The company moved to the city in 2013 as part of a bet that "Made in Detroit" would sell better than "Made in America." So far, so good, says Shinola CEO Steve Bock. And now that Detroit's bankruptcy is settled, other businesses are seeing the Motor City as a bargain.

$16.6 million

That's how much eBay made selling drones in the past ten months, Forbes reported. Sales spiked over the holidays, with the retailer moving an average of 7,600 recreational drones per week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, five times average sales over the summer.

$80

The most start-up Plowz and Mowz will charge to clear a driveway this winter. The company expected to process 2,000 plowing jobs in Boston following this week's blizzard. Bloomberg profiled so-called "Uber for snowplows" companies, which are capitalizing on the nor'easter and trying to modernize the lucrative private plowing business.

487 bytes

That's the size of the world's smallest chess computer program. As reported by the BBC, the program takes up about as much space as a couple image-less tweets.

Big Oil's first cut: exploration

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:30

Shell reports earnings on Thursday, the first of the Big Oil financial snapshots. And like the other companies, a big question is how plunging oil prices will affect exploration.

Projects a year or two off are the ones companies are likely to dial back in response to low oil prices. Dominic Haywood, an analyst at Energy Aspects in London, says that could mean postponing or canceling pricier oil discovery projects, like the Arctic, which holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, according to Shell. Drilling there is also controversial, says Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service.

“One of the casualties of the lower price environment will be some of those projects that are in places that are gonna be provoking some sort of public outrage,” he says. Kloza also says until prices go up, Big Oil will probably stick to what’s safer and cheaper.

Hezbollah 'wants no Israel conflict'

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:27
Israel says it has received a message from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah indicating it opposes military escalation after lethal border clashes.

Terror suspect extradition 'legal'

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:24
The extradition of British terror suspect Haroon Aswat to the United States was lawful, European Court of Human Rights judges rule.

Pace of house price growth slowing

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:21
House price inflation is continuing to slow, according to the latest results from two leading surveys.

Nessie to feature in ad campaign

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:20
The Loch Ness Monster is to take centre stage in a new £2m advertising campaign aimed at promoting the Loch Ness area to foreign visitors.

Female Muslim converts drawn to Islamic State

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:16
Western women drawn to join Islamic State militants are often young converts, with limited knowledge of Islamic teachings and a paradoxical love of Western culture.

South Sudan's leader 'falls ill'

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 01:14
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir is rushed to hospital in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, after becoming ill, an official tells the BBC.

Thorn Birds author McCullough dies

BBC - Thu, 2015-01-29 00:57
Australian author Colleen McCullough, best known for her novel The Thorn Birds, dies aged 77.

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