National / International News

What does pain have to do with econ? Oh, everything

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-20 04:25

A pain clinic is a strange place to think about economics.

And to be honest, I wasn’t at the time. I was thinking of myself. My abdomen, freshly scarred from two surgeries to remove endometriosis. My pants, which didn’t fit. The pain and numbness that ran down my right leg. My hand, which wouldn’t hold a pen. I’m a reporter. I have to hold a pen.

The GW Pain Center was on my road back.

The waiting room was full of people with their own pain. Diabetics who’d lost a limb. Older men and women in wheelchairs. Restless kids dragged along, too loud for the small, tense space. Veterans willing themselves to walk a few steps, knowing a punishing set of parallel bars and weights was just inside the clinic doors.

We were not always kind to one another. How can you prioritize one person’s pain over another? Is my set of stairs worth more than your heavy purse? Does your 7 on the 1-10 scale look anything like mine?

Ruth Graham wrote a spectacular story in the Boston Globe about how pain, and our subjective responses to it, can exacerbate inequality. I feel like I saw this a million times over. The skeptical eyebrow at a patient, sometimes me. Were they seeking drugs? Really hurting? How do you know?

I’ve been thinking about pain a lot as we build our new show, Marketplace Weekend. In part because my experience was so formative to who I am now, both physically and emotionally. But more because of pain’s subjective nature. And the necessity to recognize that no matter what you’re experiencing, someone else is living a different experience. Even if you can’t quite grasp it.

But you can ask. And that, to me, is the essence of reporting.

How are you? What was that like? Tell me how it felt.

The author Leslie Jamison wrote a gorgeous and searing book, "The Empathy Exams." I recommend the whole thing, but the first essay, on her time making money as a medical actor, just nails this. “Empathy isn’t just listening,” she writes, “it’s asking the questions that need to be listened to.”

Or even if I’m stumbling around and stabbing at the wrong questions.

“Empathy requires knowing you know nothing.”

That’s how it is with money, too. It pushes you, shapes you. Your 1-10 scale of losing a job is utterly different from mine. That framed first dollar over the bar? Tell me why it’s special.

Our show certainly won’t be perfect, and there will be times when we know nothing. But we’ll aim to ask, with humor, curiosity, and, I hope, empathy.

French court says end life support

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 04:20
A man in a vegetative state, whose fate has split his family, should have his life support ended, the public rapporteur of France's top court says.

'Another failure and Nico's lead might be too big'

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 04:02
In his BBC Sport column, Lewis Hamilton talks about catching leader Nico Rosberg, watching MotoGP, and crashing an F1 car.

'Rubbish hills' landowner is jailed

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 04:00
A landowner who changed a village's landscape by creating mounds of rubbish 100ft (30m) high is jailed at Cardiff Crown Court.

GE Capital ordered to pay quarter of a billion dollars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-20 04:00

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced the largest federal credit card settlement over discrimination in U.S. history. GE Capital Retail Bank, now known as Synchrony Financial, was ordered to pay $228.5 million in refunds to customers.

The CFPB says the bank told credit card customers certain services were free when they were not; signing people up and charging them without their consent, and even charging people who weren’t eligible to receive the service.

The largest chunk of the settlement ($169 million) is over allegations GE Capital Retail Bank declined to offer debt relief to people if they asked for service in Spanish, or if they had mailing addresses in Puerto Rico.

“These kinds of practices are amazingly common,” says Jill Fisch, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania. “Historically credit cards have been an area where the credit card companies are able to identify lower income and less educated consumers and take advantage of them and we’ve seen that over many years.”

GE Capital self-reported the incidents and says it regrets its error. In April, Bank of America paid $727 million over similar practices, and over the past two years American Express, Capital One, Chase, and Discover have all been ordered to refund customers more than $700 million dollars total. 

PODCAST: Why Russia is allegedly anti-fracking

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-20 04:00

More on the news that NATO is accusing Russia of giving money to anti-fracking environmentalist groups. Plus, Detroit is implementing new pension plans for some of its residents, the implications of which have other states nervous. Also, Minessota will be the next state to offer businesses the option of classifying as b-corporations, a title which allows the equal prioritization of social missions and profit.

VIDEO: Do you fly county flag with pride?

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 03:51
Several English counties are fluttering flags of their own, picked by residents to reflect their local identity.

Day in pictures: 20 June 2014

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 03:41
24 hours of news photos: 20 June 2014

VIDEO: Pair guilty of 'garden bodies' murder

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 03:30
A husband and wife have been found guilty of the murder of the woman's parents, whose bodies were found buried in garden in Nottinghamshire.

Is A Threat On Facebook Real? Supreme Court Will Weigh In

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-20 03:28

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving perceived death threats on Facebook. The court and the company could have starkly different approaches to identifying credible threats.

» E-Mail This

VIDEO: Transformers take over Hong Kong

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 03:24
Mark Wahlberg and some giant alien robots head to Hong Kong for the world premiere of Transformers 4

Married Same-Sex Couples To Receive More Federal Benefits

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-20 03:19

The newly expanded benefits would allow people in a same-sex marriage to take time off from work to care for their spouses, no matter which state they live in.

» E-Mail This

Inside Ukraine's war-torn towns

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 03:18
Inside eastern Ukraine towns destroyed by fighting

Swarm mission makes magnetic maps

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 03:04
Europe's new Swarm space mission starts making maps of Earth's magnetic field with its high-precision instruments.

Brother of Yaya and Kolo Toure dies

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 03:00
The brother of Ivory Coast World Cup stars Yaya and Kolo Toure dies in Manchester, the Ivorian Football Association confirms.

Silicon Tally: YO YO YO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-20 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 Marketplace's own Sabri Ben-Achour. Ben-Achour reports on Wall Street, finance, and anything New York and money related. var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-yo", placeholder: "pd_1403265357" } ); (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'));

Zimbabwe arrests state paper editor

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 02:41
Zimbabwean police arrest a recently appointed editor of a state-owned newspaper, the latest sign of tension within President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

VIDEO: Bulgaria floods cause chaos

BBC - Fri, 2014-06-20 02:01
Heavy flooding hits eastern Bulgaria, killing at least 10 people and causing severe damage to several cities.

Central bankers clear the way for stock gains

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-20 02:00

Markets around the world are riding high as the end of the financial quarter approaches next week. Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets (UK), joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain what's behind the surprising strength.

Click on the audio player above to hear Michael Hewson in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio. 

Watchmaking revived by at-risk youth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-20 02:00

Behind the heavily secured doors of Tourneau’s New York workshop, watchmakers work on repairing the world’s most expensive timepieces, worth tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. With all the Rolexes inside, one expects to find an elderly Swiss man in a milking jacket in charge.

But the luxury watch seller’s technical director is American Terry Irby, a third generation watchmaker. His gentle Arkansas accent and pristine white lab coat give him the air of a country doctor; one with a magnifying eye loupe around his neck instead of a stethoscope. He’s running something of a teaching hospital for watch repair; an unusual program that combines students from tough backgrounds with the fantastically pricey watches that wrap the wrists of billionaires and celebrities. It’s a bid to save a threatened profession, while bettering the lives of some at-risk young people.

During a recent class, Irby leans over the workbench of 20-year-old Justine Hernandez, showing her how to delicately take the hands off a watch -- a tricky thing to do without scratching its face. The tools she uses include some of the smallest tweezers you’ve ever seen, because many watch parts are the size of gnats.

Like others in the class, Hernandez comes from Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School. It’s for older students -- those whose progress may have been held up by poverty, homelessness, or run-ins with the law. The timepieces they work with come from a whole different world.

“We were looking at all the beautiful watches and there’s this one watch that stands out -- costs like $40,000, which is like a car, probably a couple of cars,” Hernandez recalls.

The skills she’s learning could lead to a stable job with solid pay. Irby says qualified watchmakers start at $50,000 and are in demand around the world. Students who do well in the class can move on to paid internships at Tourneau, which can lead to full-time jobs.

This program isn’t just corporate goodwill. Wristwatches are fashionable again and the company needs people.

“I have often said that I would take ten watchmakers today if I could find them,” Irby explains. “Our biggest complaint is that we can’t do the job fast enough.”

Irby’s office overlooks the floor where the watchmakers work, quietly hunched over benches tending to the world’s finest timepieces, some new and others passed through families over the decades. Among those at work is Edwin Larregui, a recent graduate of the program. Irby speaks highly of his talent and dedication and expects him to be in watchmaking a long time.

Fresh from wrapping up work on a handsome Cartier worth several grand, Larregui recalls a time when he got so wrapped up in his work that he unwittingly went home wearing his eye loupe. He giggles as he recounts the funny looks people gave him on the train home. Then he turns serious, speaking with the calm satisfaction of a young man who has finally found something he loves, something he’s great at.

“It’s a part of me now,” Larregui says.

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