National / International News

Doing The Math: How The U.S. Can Advance In The World Cup

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 13:24

Despite a deflating tie with Portugal, the U.S. is in a good spot: A tie or win against Germany moves them to the round of 16. A loss would unleash a complex scenario.

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The value of 'second-best solutions' to global warming

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 13:20

Over the weekend a prominent Republican, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, came out for a more-comprehensive attack on global warming than anything the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed: In a New York Times essay, he called for a tax on carbon. Economist and Times columnist Paul Krugman quickly challenged Paulson: A carbon tax won’t happen because of politics, so will Paulson support “second-best” solutions? 

Economists agree that regulating carbon-dioxide emissions like other pollutants doesn’t work. Carbon is everywhere: producing energy, driving cars, making cement. "We’re talking about hundreds of millions of sources," says Robert Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard, "so the whole notion of trying to reduce those emissions with source-by-source regulations is simply infeasible."

A carbon tax is a tax on carbon sources, proportionate to how much carbon each source emits. "It provides incentives for everyone" to use less carbon, says Stavins, "from the electical generator, to the cement company, to myself, in terms of running the dishwasher."

So a carbon tax is like a bug bomb. Everything else -- the world of second-best solutions -- is running around your apartment with a flyswatter.

MIT economist Michael Greenstone proposes a different metaphor for second-best solutions. "I like to think of all of these policies as kind of a bank shot in the game of billiards," he says. "You’re shooting the ball to one side of the table, although the pocket is on the other."  So it’s harder to make your shot -- and you may hit something you don’t mean to.  

He uses fuel-efficiency standards for cars as an example. Although the standards "do make cars more fuel-efficient," he says, "they also cause people to drive more. You've reduced the cost of driving."

Similarly, because the EPA’s new power-plant regulations aim at carbon-intensity, not carbon emissions, they produce some unintended effects, says University of Colorado economist Daniel Kaffine.  Because gas is less carbon-intensive than coal, the strategy "sort of acts like a tax on coal and a subsidy to gas," he says. "But what we really want is a tax on both coal and gas."

Meanwhile, evaluating the tradeoffs creates work for economists. "You know, given this menu of second-best policies," says Kaffine, "how do they compare against the reference point of doing nothing?"

 

Mormon Church Excommunicates Advocate For Female Priests

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 13:15

An all-male panel has convicted Kate Kelly, a founder of Ordain Women, of apostasy and canceled her church membership.

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Neville: No scapegoat this time

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-23 13:13
BBC pundit Phil Neville on what it feels like to fail at a major tournament and why England need to take the positives.

Wimbledon: An occasion for white

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 13:02

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Tuesday, June 24:

In Washington, the Commerce Department lets us know how many new homes were sold in May.

On Capitol Hill, Congress' Joint Economic Committee holds a hearing on "The Economic Impact of Increased Natural Gas Production."

In London, the tennis tournament Wimbledon enters its second day and continues through July 6. Strawberries and cream all around.

The Conference Board issues its monthly Consumer Confidence Index.

And he played Al on TV's "Happy Days." Actor Al Molinaro turns 95.

Pharmaceutical Companies Accuse Hospitals Of Misusing Discounts

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 13:02

Drugmakers offer medicines at a bargain price to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor patients. Hospitals sometimes resell the drugs at full price and make hefty profits.

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VIDEO: Iraqi forces 'fighting back'

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-23 13:00
US Secretary of State John Kerry has vowed "intense and sustained support" for Iraq after meeting key politicians in the capital, Baghdad.

Why do marketers want young men so badly?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:58

Listener Brock Groth of San Francisco hit us with this one:

“I've always wondered why marketers care so much about the ‘all-important’ male 21-to-35 demographic. What is so important about that group? As a male in my mid-40s I spend a lot more money than I did back then. What am I missing?”

Short answer is -- it’s actually the opposite sex who marketers spend the most to reach. After all, women are responsible for most consumer spending decisions, especially in families.

But, Brock Groth is also right. Younger men are an 'all-important' marketing target for key consumer categories and brands—everything from late-night TV, to alcoholic beverages, athletic footwear, sports entertainment, and pickup trucks.

Here are some examples:

Here’s one of those super-expensive Super Bowl ads, featuring NFL linebacker Terry Tate, busting office dweebs’ heads . . . for Reebok.

Michael Jordan -- the old, and the young -- battle it out in a one-on-one, for Gatorade.

There’s the battle for ratings on late-night TV:

It’s an insult-a-minute . . . when it’s not a frat-boy comedy-fest featuring various bodily fluids.

And then there’s the attraction of pretty much anything suggesting sex.

Media analyst Jack Myers is author of the forthcoming book 'The Future of Men: End of the Age of Dominant Males,' and he says: “Beer commercials continue to be appealing to men as completely male-focused misogynists who have women around them at bars or sporting events only to serve their needs. Or, men are idiots, they’re the buffoons who aren’t even capable of knowing which analgesic they should take.”

Still, retail-industry expert Patty Edwards at U.S. Bank Wealth Management says it pays to try to grab them now, before they get older -- and likely more mature.

“That 18-to-34-year-old male demographic are either newly married or not yet married,” says Edwards. “In a lot of cases they’re living at home or living with friends. They have a lot of disposable income.”

The so-called Yummies -- “young urban males” -- are getting a lot of attention after a report from HSBC pegged them as the most promising market for luxury goods—things like $1,000-plus briefcases, clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, for brands like Coach, Burberry, Michael Kors and Prada.

But Edwards says even young men on a modest salary will spend: “A bottle of aftershave, if it gets you the girl, it’s worth every penny.”

Government consumer spending data show that young men (up to age 34) spend more than young women overall, and also in key categories for marketers—new cars and trucks, alcohol, entertainment. For booze and eating out, they even spend more than older men, who have significantly more disposable income.

Patty Edwards says once women enter the picture, men make fewer consumer purchasing decisions. “It’s actually women who control the majority of spending, even over this demographic,” says Edwards. “And it’s because no guy does much of anything without permission from his wife or girlfriend.”

So why then is the 18-to-34-year-old male still such a key demographic for marketers? Because his wallet’s full. Unlike the typical female consumer, he’s more likely to spend what he wants, without thinking too much about what he needs. So if you’re Bud, or Jeep, or Nike, you want to get him hooked on your brand, before someone with more grown-up spending habits—likely a woman—starts putting him right.

Why do marketers want young men so bad?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:58

Listener Brock Groth of San Francisco hit us with this one:

“I've always wondered why marketers care so much about the ‘all-important’ male 21-to-35 demographic. What is so important about that group? As a male in my mid-40s I spend a lot more money than I did back then. What am I missing?”

Short answer is -- it’s actually the opposite sex who marketers spend the most to reach. After all, women are responsible for most consumer spending decisions, especially in families.

But, Brock Groth is also right. Younger men are an 'all-important' marketing target for key consumer categories and brands—everything from late-night TV, to alcoholic beverages, athletic footwear, sports entertainment, and pickup trucks.

Here are some examples:

Here’s one of those super-expensive Super Bowl ads, featuring NFL linebacker Terry Tate, busting office dweebs’ heads . . . for Reebok.

Michael Jordan -- the old, and the young -- battle it out in a one-on-one, for Gatorade.

There’s the battle for ratings on late-night TV:

It’s an insult-a-minute . . . when it’s not a frat-boy comedy-fest featuring various bodily fluids.

And then there’s the attraction of pretty much anything suggesting sex.

Media analyst Jack Myers is author of the forthcoming book 'The Future of Men: End of the Age of Dominant Males,' and he says: “Beer commercials continue to be appealing to men as completely male-focused misogynists who have women around them at bars or sporting events only to serve their needs. Or, men are idiots, they’re the buffoons who aren’t even capable of knowing which analgesic they should take.”

Still, retail-industry expert Patty Edwards at U.S. Bank Wealth Management says it pays to try to grab them now, before they get older -- and likely more mature.

“That 18-to-34-year-old male demographic are either newly married or not yet married,” says Edwards. “In a lot of cases they’re living at home or living with friends. They have a lot of disposable income.”

The so-called Yummies -- “young urban males” -- are getting a lot of attention after a report from HSBC pegged them as the most promising market for luxury goods—things like $1,000-plus briefcases, clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, for brands like Coach, Burberry, Michael Kors and Prada.

But Edwards says even young men on a modest salary will spend: “A bottle of aftershave, if it gets you the girl, it’s worth every penny.”

Government consumer spending data show that young men (up to age 34) spend more than young women overall, and also in key categories for marketers—new cars and trucks, alcohol, entertainment. For booze and eating out, they even spend more than older men, who have significantly more disposable income.

Patty Edwards says once women enter the picture, men make fewer consumer purchasing decisions. “It’s actually women who control the majority of spending, even over this demographic,” says Edwards. “And it’s because no guy does much of anything without permission from his wife or girlfriend.”

So why then is the 18-to-34-year-old male still such a key demographic for marketers? Because his wallet’s full. Unlike the typical female consumer, he’s more likely to spend what he wants, without thinking too much about what he needs. So if you’re Bud, or Jeep, or Nike, you want to get him hooked on your brand, before someone with more grown-up spending habits—likely a woman—starts putting him right.

Eight guilty of family fire deaths

BBC - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:53
Seven men and a teenager are found guilty for their part in an arson attack in Leicester that killed four people in September 2013.

Simple Tricks Can Tame The Taste Of Broccoli And Its Cousins

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:34

The horrible memory of overcooked vegetables can and should be overcome, because yes, kale is really good for you. A cookbook author shares tips for making sure these veggies actually taste good, too.

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Thai Protest Leader Says He Advised Army Chief Prior To Coup

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:29

Suthep Thaugsuban, who led months of anti-government rallies prior to last month's putsch, tells supporters that he's had the ear of junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha since 2010.

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Facebook's unassuming jobs program

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:26

Partnerships between colleges and corporations have been around for decades. But government funding for research and state college budgets have shrunk in recent years. So now, more companies are stepping in to fill that funding gap.

Back in 2010, there was this virus going around on Facebook. It was called the Koobface virus.

"And the Koobface virus was the first virus that we knew about that could actually infect your friends through your social network," says Gary Warner, head of computer forensics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The Koobface virus would log in to users' accounts with stolen info "and send messages to all of your friends on FB that said something like 'I can't believe this video caught you naked!' and has a picture of a shower curtain," Warner says. Users would click on it, and boom­­all their friends would get infected. Warner put a graduate student on the case full­time.

"And we actually wrote a program that was able to enumerate every Facebook account that had been stolen by the criminal," he says.

They shared info about the hacked accounts with Facebook, and the company was grateful, to say the least. So grateful, Facebook built a $250,000 wing in the university's computer forensics department. What was once 4,400 square feet of bare concrete is now the Facebook Suite. It feels very Silicon Valley, with sleek chairs and trendy lighting.

But the relationship goes way beyond a shiny new space. Facebook and UAB consult with each other on what to research and even what to teach. And this is typical nowadays when corporations team up with colleges. Relationships are cozier and more targeted.

Jennifer Henley, director of security operations at Facebook, says there's a reason Facebook is partnering with the University of Alabama at Birmingham: It builds a pool of candidates with the right job skills.

"The reason why is they are giving hands­ome real­ world experience to students about the type of issues we face on a day­-to-­day in the security space," she says. Facebook offers scholarships and flies top students to conferences. Henley says the company needs to fill a pipeline gap.

"By the year 2020, they predict that we're going to have over two­-thirds of security jobs unfilled," she says.

So getting graduates into jobs is good for colleges. Letting companies have too much control? Not good. In fact, Donald Heller, dean of the education school at Michigan State, says universities are careful to avoid this.

"But on the other hand the universities want to enjoy the resources that the corporations can provide, so there's a very fine dance that goes on between the two parties to make sure that both are getting what they want out of the relationship," he says. Heller says companies are looking for an immediate return on that investment. It could be research that makes the foods we eat safer, or a medical breakthrough that helps prevent heart attacks.

"So certainly research is an important outcome of these relationships, but also eventually hiring the graduates of a university," he says. "And they're checking out the corporation and the corporation is checking them out as a potential future employee, so that's an important outcome of the process as well."

And the more colleges give their students a golden ticket to the real world, the better they look.

In Oklahoma Senate Race, A Choice Between Two Deep Shades Of Red

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:24

In a solidly conservative state, GOP Sen. Tom Coburn's retirement has set off a heated GOP primary between two rising Republican stars. Immigration is a key issue.

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Parents Get Some Help In Teaching Their Teens To Drive

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:17

A web-based program that puts Mom and Dad back in the learner's seat appears to improve their teenagers' driving performance, while getting them more time on the road.

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Kerry Lands In Badhdad, Bearing Warnings For Iraqi Leaders

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:07

Secretary of State John Kerry is touching on a number of complex foreign policy issues this week — from violence in Iraq, to political instability in Egypt and the conflict in Ukraine.NPR's Jackie Northam is on the trip and talks with All Things Considered.

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Guilty Verdicts Claim 3 More Reporters, As Egyptian Courts Roll On

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:07

An Egyptian court issued its verdict in the trial of three journalists from the Al Jazeera English network. Though evidence of their alleged crimes was never presented in court, two of the journalists were slapped with seven-year sentences and one with a ten-year sentence. The decision has been met with international condemnation.

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Maliki's Power Base Crumbles As Iraq Slips Into Chaos

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:07

The Iraqi prime minister once boasted that he brought stability to the country, but as Iraq looks more like a Sunni vs. Shiite battlefield, critics say Nouri al-Maliki's policies have led to the mess.

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World's Chemical Weapons Watchdog Clears Syria

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:07

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons has announced that Syria has handed over the last of its declared chemical weapons stockpile. Despite the milestone, what questions remain about chemical weapons in Syria?

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EPA Gets A Win From Supreme Court On Global Warming Emissions — Mostly

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 12:07

The court's 7-2 decision gave the EPA the right to regulate greenhouse gases. But in a separate 5-4 vote, the justices curbed the agency's attempt to rework one section of the Clean Air Act.

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