National / International News

Nigerian medics join Ebola response

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 02:05
About 100 Nigerian medical workers are expected to arrive in Sierra Leone to help with the response to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

Wilko dreams of Dylan collaboration

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 02:00
Wilko Johnson says he has found it "difficult" coming to terms with still being alive after being told he had terminal cancer.

Wilt Chamberlain postage stamp signals a shift

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-05 02:00

When you think of stamps, you might picture paintings of ducks, and dead, nearly forgotten presidents. But Friday in Philadelphia, two new stamps will be released, the first to feature a pro basketball player.

You could say he’s the basketball equivalent of Madonna or Elvis because the new stamps dispense with his last name and only say “Wilt,” stretched out as if to emphasize his 7-foot-1 stature.

“Wilt is the greatest player to ever play,” said Donald Hunt, a Phildelphia Tribune sportswriter who headed the effort to get Chamberlain his own stamp. “He scored 100 points in a game, averaged 50 points in a game ... at one point in his career he grabbed 55 rebounds in a game.”

But Chamberlain is also well known for other things, including claiming that he slept with 20,000 women. The NBA star joins recent postal honorees like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, who died of drug overdoses. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve stamps, according to Chad Snee, editor of the weekly Linn’s Stamp News.

“If the committee had to weigh personal imperfections when determining whether or not someone could be honored with a postage stamp … we wouldn’t see too many people on our stamps anymore,” he said.

Christmas comes early, via the November jobs report

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-05 02:00
321,000

That's how many jobs were added in November, according to the Labor Department's report on job creation and unemployment for last month. Economists have also been predicting a strong hiring season for seasonal retail jobs.

6,341,973,470

The number of geotagged tweets in this stunning map, created by Eric Fischer, a developer at Mapbox. Fischer tracked tweets over three and a half years, and by the end about 10 million were coming in each day.

240%

The cost of the Chanel Classic Flap bag has increased 240% since 1994 (from $1762.32 to $6000, when you adjust for inflation). But there's more to blame than inflation. Think of it as an exclusivity tax.

100

The number of upscale coffee shops Starbucks has planned, with the first opening in Seattle, the New York Times reported. The concept, Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, will eschew the green mermaid branding and sell single-origin beverages at $4-$7, in a bid to compete with boutique roasters like Stumptown, Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia.

50 percent

That's the American divorce rate tossed around frequently in the media, but lately there have been efforts to debunk it. Divorce has, as far as anyone can tell, actually been on the decline. But as Quartz reports, divorce rates are extremely difficult to measure, making the conventional wisdom around marriage malleable.

50 percent

Speaking of divorce, it was recently reported that the messaging service WhatsApp is cited in nearly 50 percent of Italian divorce cases. But you already knew that, didn't you. So head over to Silicon Tally, our weekly quiz on the week in tech news, and prove how smart you really are.

Think of it as an exclusivity tax

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-05 02:00

On the upper east side of Manhattan in a very elegant apartment, just a few blocks away from the Chanel boutique, Jean Shafiroff is a fan of the brand. 

"Styles come and go and brands come and go but it seems to me that Chanel remains," she says. 

Shafiroff is wearing a forest green wool jacket (Chanel) and she's taken out a few of her Chanel bags to show to a reporter some of the classics. They have the signature quilted flap and interwoven metal and leather chain shoulder strap. She says, "If I’m willing to use a bag that I bought over twenty years ago, I think it’s pretty much a classic, don’t you?"

Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff with a classic Chanel bag and a biography of the designer.

Sally Herships

But this is about more than just fashion — Shafiroff sees her choices as investments. "Like buying a piece of art," she says. 

A philanthropist on the board of seven charities, Shafiroff hosts a lot of fundraising events, and she bought her first Chanel bag, the classic one —  with the quilted flap and the leather and metal chain — in the 80’s. She still carries it.

"It's more chic now than it was then, because it’s vintage," she says.

But there’s nothing vintage about the price. In the mid-eighties, a classic Chanel bag was under a thousand dollars. Adjusted for inflation, the price today should be about double. But a similar purse now costs north of $4,000 dollars, way past the rate of inflation. The cost of labor is up, not to mention leather. Then there’s the euro versus the dollar — But, says Paul Swinand, an analyst with Morningstar, there’s another big reason the prices for Chanel bags have climbed so high.

"There are more rich people in emerging markets, and they’re getting richer faster than we are," he says.  

Says Swinand, in markets like Asia, wealthy consumers have an enormous appetite for western goods: "They want Cognac. They want LVMH bags. They want Swiss watches."

And they want Chanel purses, but they don’t want everybody else to have them too.

 

A sequined Chanel bag owned by Jean Shafiroff 

Sally Herships

"Think about it. You wouldn’t want everybody to have a Tiffany ring. You wouldn’t  want everybody to have an Hermes bag," says Swinand. "The allure of a Patek Philippe watch or a special signature Chanel bag is to walk in and say, 'Oh my gosh, those are hard to get, you must have paid a lot of money for that.' Maybe you don’t say that explicitly but that’s the allure."

And Chanel knows it. So it keeps raising prices. Think of it as an exclusivity tax.

"This is not inflation increases, this is something that is really extraordinary, and replicates the index of living extremely well," says Thomai Serdari, a professor of  marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

She adds, "it is a manufactured, namely, an artificial market that keeps going up, as long as there are people who are wiling to spend."

And Chanel isn’t the only brand to have taken this approach. Think Ferrari. Even Nike, says Serdari, used pricing to set its sneakers apart. Burberry famously raised its prices after its trademarked plaid started becoming too popular.  

From a business point of view, Jean Shafiroff can appreciate the exclusivity strategy — After all, she has an MBA.  

“They’re making it less accessible and I think that’s a very smart business technique,” she says. But from a personal point of view, Shafiroff says she doesn’t have plans to buy a new Chanel bag anytime soon.

Just stop by Chanel's Madison Ave boutique and you can see the brand's strategy at work. To reinforce how precious they are, purses are presented on pedestals, one by one. 

"Displayed the way objects would be displayed in a museum," says Sedari. “It is intimidating. It is done on purpose, it should intimidate you. You shouldn’t feel like anybody can participate in that world.”

Improved job creation expected for November

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-05 02:00

On Friday, the Labor Department reports on November job creation and unemployment. Economists predict companies and government offices added 230,000 jobs, and that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8 percent.

Over the past year the economy’s been adding on average 220,000 jobs per month. And the quality of jobs has gradually improved, says Mark Hamrick at Bankrate.com. One year ago, he says, the strongest job growth was in relatively low-skilled, low-paid sectors: bars and restaurants, hotels, retail.

“We’re seeing a greater collection of sectors participating in job creation,” says Hamrick, including “professional and business services, health care, construction, occasionally manufacturing.”

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas has predicted a strong hiring season for seasonal retail jobs, with companies including Amazon, Macy’s, Fedex, UPS, Walmart, Kohl’s and GameStop planning to increase hiring over last year. But after disappointing sales on Black Friday, “companies look at the traffic in their stores,” says John Challenger, “and if it’s really going to be down longer-term, they’ll pull some of those people back.”

Wilt Chamberlain stamp signals a shift for USPS

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-05 02:00

When you think of stamps, you might picture paintings of ducks, and dead, forgotten presidents. But Friday in Philadelphia, two new stamps will be released, the first ever to feature a pro basketball player.

You could say he’s the basketball equivalent of Madonna or Elvis because the new stamps dispense with his last name and only say “Wilt,” stretched out as if to emphasize his 7-foot-1 stature.

“Wilt is the greatest player to ever play,” said Donald Hunt, a sports writer for the Philadelphia Tribune who headed the effort to get Wilt Chamberlain his own stamp. “He scored 100 points in a game, averaged 50 points in a game... at one point in his career he grabbed 55 rebounds in a game.”

But Chamberlain also did other stuff, including claiming that he slept with 20,000 women. The NBA star joins recent postal honorees like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, who died of drug overdoses. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve stamps, according to Chad Snee, editor of Linn’s Stamp News.

“If the committee had to weigh personal imperfections when determining whether or not someone could be honored with a postage stamp … we wouldn’t see too many people on our stamps anymore,” he said.

Silicon Tally: Ciao, TTYN!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-05 02:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by Rusty Foster, who writes the Today in Tabs newsletter, covering the "worst (and occasionally best) in tabs."

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Ireland bid for World Cup announced

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 01:50
The IRFU announces its intention to submit a bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup in Ireland on Friday morning.

VIDEO: Martin Sheen on new Bhopal film

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 01:44
Peter Bowes speaks to Martin Sheen about his role in Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain

VIDEO: Tebbit 'very irritated' with 1960s Tories

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 01:43
Lord Tebbit says he entered politics when he became "very irritated" with the 1960s Conservative government.

Royal officer cleared of assault

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 01:26
Royal protection officer PC Mark Schleich is cleared of common assault and perverting the course of justice after he sat on a fare dodger.

Cosby counter-sues over sex claims

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 01:22
Bill Cosby files a legal action against the woman accusing him of sexual assault when she was 15, claiming she attempted to exhort money from him.

Blair: Politicians are underpaid

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 01:17
Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair warns that low salaries for politicians are limiting the leadership "gene pool".

VIDEO: 'Still room for a great power ballad'

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 01:11
Bonnie Tyler, famous for 1980s power ballads such as Total Eclipse of the Heart, talks about her forthcoming world tour.

Roaming dolphin turns up in Scotland

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 00:50
A dolphin, loved by fishermen in France but suspected of an "attack" on swimmers in the Republic of Ireland, turns up in Scottish waters.

VIDEO: Ronnie's 147 in 1min 47secs

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 00:40
Watch Ronnie O'Sullivan's stunning 147 break in one minute 47 seconds, as he made the maximum break to round off a 6-0 whitewash of Matthew Selt in the last 16 of the UK Championship in York.

Putin ratchets up patriotism amid rouble woes

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 00:36
The Russian president's keynote speech glossed over economic worries and lashed out at the West, Sarah Rainsford reports from Moscow.

VIDEO: How gaming can pay your tuition fees

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 00:33
BBC Click's Marc Cieslak looks at how eSports are helping some American students pay their way through university.

Obese lose up to eight years of life

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-05 00:32
Being severely obese can knock up to eight years off your life and cause decades of ill health, a report says.

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