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Marketplace on RADIO IQ with BBC
Marketplace with host Kai Ryssdal produced and distributed by American Public Media focuses on the latest business news both nationally and internationally, the global economy, and wider events linked to the financial markets.
The only national daily business news program originating from the West Coast, Marketplace is noted for its timely, relevant and accessible coverage of business, economics and personal finance.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 2:19pm
3.2 million passports have been lost or stolen from U.S. citizens since 2004.
That’s a lot of passports!
When a passport is stolen, it can make a circuitous loop around the world via underground criminal markets. Here's how it happens:
The Passport is taken.JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images
The Passport makes its way from the petty thief to a wholesale warehouse. There, it will sit in a stack of other stolen passports.Flickr: UKhomeoffice
A passport forger calls the warehouse to say, "I have someone who needs an American passport, got any?"
The warehouse man rummages through the stack, pulls out a passport, and sends it to the forger.PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
The forger will, if necessary, adulterate the image on the passport. He'll run it through a chain of people possibly 10 links long, until it makes its way to the client.Flickr: Hc_07
Someone will buy the fake passport for $200-$7,000. It could be used to get a job, to open a bank account, to launder money, or to get on a plane. As is clear from the Malaysian Air mystery, border patrol does not always check against Interpol lists of stolen or flagged passports.Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images
STEP 6 (optional):
The stolen passport can be used to glean identification information that can then be used to apply for brand new passports – with a criminal’s photo and biometric information attached.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 4:58am
Climatologists in the U.S. and elsewhere are starting to predict a likely El Nino weather pattern in the coming year. That’s when changes in the temperature on the ocean surface in one part of the world create all kinds of unusual weather in lots of other places: rains in Florida, droughts in Australia. What might that mean for global food prices?
"Wait and see," says Scott Shellady, a commodities trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, an executive with Trean Group—and a farmer, growing corn and beans. At this point El Nino’s still a maybe. There’s other, for-sure stuff to factor for farmers to factor in right now, he says—like the prices of seed, fuel and fertilizer. "As much as El Nino gets talked about, if they put it in their business plan, they’ll probably be less profitable," Shellady notes.
El Nino effects are different everywhere—more rain in California, less in India—so the effects on crops vary a lot. Commodities markets smooth out some of the bumps—but not for everyone. Purdue University economist Nelson Villoria says in some places — for instance, parts of Africa — El Nino can mean prices double for staples like rice and corn. That’s because not all countries get their food on big global markets.
"Bangladesh gets rice from India," he says. "It doesn’t matter that rice in Uruguay or Argentina is growing strongly. Bangladesh really cares about what’s happening in India."
Sea surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. (El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures.)NOAA
Sea surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean (above). El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures and La Niña by unusually cool temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. Anomalies (below) represent deviations from normal temperature values, with unusually warm temperatures shown in red and unusually cold anomalies shown in blue.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 4:03am
It’s hard enough measuring the mainstream economy. A new report from the Urban Institute has attempted to quantify the underground commercial sex economy. Researchers say in 2007 it was worth about $975 million, in just in seven U.S. cities.
Curious about the business expenses of pimps? Check out their online feature for further insight.
The Institute reports that pimps most often recruit sex workers from their own social circles. But the Internet is changing business. Bill Woolf is a detective with the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia. He says most scouting and recruitment of victims by traffickers is now done online.
“Whether it’s through social media, other chat lines, through false advertisements for employment online, things of that nature,” Woolf says. “But the majority is now done online.”
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 1:42am
On March 12, the World Wide Web turns 25. In 1989, Tim Berners Lee wrote a paper at the European physics lab called CERN, about a way to help linked computers share their sets of data with the public.
Twenty five years later, that idea has let an ever-expanding universe of all kinds of devices share information. But those devices are going far beyond just sets of computers. One modern example is wearable devices, which are delivering data to us and collecting it from us with help from the Web. Wearables are having their moment right now. The Fitbit fitness tracker, Nike's Fuelband--these wearables use the Web to collect and deliver all the information we need to become fitter, happier, and more productive.
Some attendees at SXSW Interactive have already moved beyond wearables though, and are on to embeddables. What are embeddables? "Nanoscale machinery inside our bodies," says Andy Goodman, "which can monitor us and modify us." Goodman spoke about embeddables at SXSW, saying in the near future we could have everything from sensors that tweaked our home brewed coffee to our personal taste, to LEDs in our hair that would display our status updates or even ads.
But there's a problem with embeddables: they present yet another data risk. Nicole Ozer is manning a quiet booth at the conference in Austin, as the tech policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union. And she's not just worried about how wearables (and someday embeddables) are collecting our data. She's worried about how the companies making this technology manage that data. "A lot of companies take the mindset of 'let's collect as much data as we can, says Ozer. "Let's retain it as long as possible. And let's have as much discression about how we use it." If companies are keeping the data around, she says the government or another third party could demand it, steal it, or just snatch it up because it's there.
Ozer says another wrinkle is that users aren't as aware of data collection without sitting in front of a screen, so wearables and embeddables present an extra challenge about awareness. Out of sight, out of mind. A good example of this is the issue Fitbit users had with the dropdown menu on their sexual activity--which got posted inadvertantly in some google results. Now imagine that bit of tech being actually IN your body. Could an overreaching goverment charge you for eating a donut?
If some of this stuff sounds far out, it may be. It may be a while before a sensor in our mouth makes sure we get the perfect-tasting coffee. Maybe never. But the LED hairdo might not be as far off. Researchers at the University of Washington made a new kind of LED this week. It's small. How small? Just three atoms thick.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 8:48pm
Our long national menswear nightmare is over.
Men's Wearhouse is going to pay $1.8 billion for its smaller (but, if I may say, classier) competitor.
Also: I'm still not Audie Cornish.
June 18, 2013