Marketplace on WVTF, RADIO IQ & RADIO IQ w/BBC News
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.
Friday, May 29, 2015 8:06pm
According to the U.S. Peace Corps, 7 percent of its 6,818 volunteers are over the age of 50, and the international service organization would like to see that double. Retired volunteers, the agency says, bring unique life skills and professional experiences with them that allow them to instantly impact the communities they serve around the world.
Enter John and Rosemary Bottcher from Monticello, Florida, married 47 years. Rosemary, 72, is a retired environmental chemist, and John, 71, was an environmental attorney. They served together from 2011-2013 in Paraguay, where Rosemary taught secondary school and John worked in agricultural economics building sustainable gardens.
"It was just a grand adventure," Rosemary says. "I just wanted to do something different, because lying about when you're retired can get pretty boring pretty fast." John and Rosemary's decided to join the Peace Corps after visiting their daughter, a volunteer herself, in Guatemala.
Friday, May 29, 2015 5:01pm
Incidents of racial bias by police, harsh treatment of black and Latino civilians by police and police shootings in questionable circumstances are continuing to generate protest and investigation across the U.S.
Many critics of contemporary law enforcement cite the continued dominance of police departments by whites, often in cities that have become majority black and/or Latino, as a significant cause of continued problems between police and the communities they serve.
According to a detailed analysis of Bureau of Justice Statistics and local police department data by the New York Times, even after decades of effort to recruit more minorities into policing, some big-city and suburban departments have wide racial imbalances between the race of police officers and residents.
Nationally, African-Americans made up 12 percent of local police forces in 2013, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. That percentage has stayed the same since 1997, and it's 1.2 percent below the black share of U.S. population as a whole, according to census data. Hispanics are also underrepresented by about 5.5 percent nationwide.
Delores Jones-Brown is a former prosecutor who is now a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
“If you’ve got 12 percent African-American police officers in a community that’s 60, 70 or 80 percent African-American, you’re not doing very well," she says, adding that minorities are concentrated at the bottom of the police hierarchy in most departments.
“Many of the police personnel who are of color are likely not at a command-staff level," Jones-Brown says. "And that means they’re not being able to make many decisions about what kinds of policies and practices will be in place.”
One economic development getting in the way of minority recruitment at all levels is the rising African-American middle class, Jones-Brown says.
“African-Americans who are smart enough, college-educated enough or otherwise talented in other areas that pay more money and produce less risk, are taking advantage of those opportunities,” she says.
But being a police officer can be a very good, middle-class job for many. Charles Wilson can attest to this. He’s a 44-year veteran of policing.
“I started my police career in Ohio. I’ve done patrol, I’ve done traffic, I’ve worked narcotics, I’ve worked internal affairs. And I’ve been a police chief,” he says.
Wilson now wears a uniform patrolling a college campus in Providence, Rhode Island, and also serves as chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, with thousands of members and chapters across the Northeastern U.S. Wilson started on the force when he was just out of high school, with a baby on the way.
“I needed a job; the police department was hiring. I took the test, got on the job, and have been crazy ever since I guess,” he says.
Policing can also be lonely at times for officers of color, Wilson says.
“Our numbers in many agencies are in single digits or double-digits," he says. "The vast majority of the law enforcement community remains the bastion of white officers.”
Getting more black and brown people to wear blue has become a crusade for him.
“It pays well, the benefits are good, there are rarely layoffs,” he says of law enforcement as a career. “And you have the opportunity to truly make a difference in people’s lives.”
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average starting salary at departments serving 25,000 residents or more nationwide is $45,000. Typically the job does not require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Even if better-educated and more upwardly mobile African-Americans are shunning law enforcement careers, people from less-privileged backgrounds might welcome these good government jobs. But Jones-Brown says many can’t pass the entry test, the credit check or the criminal background check.
“Young men who live in highly policed communities stand very little chance of making it to, say, age 24 without having had some police encounter,” she says. A recent study in the journal Crime and Delinquency found that by age 23, 49 percent of black men and 44 percent of Hispanic men had been arrested, compared to 38 percent of white men.
Molloy College criminology professor John Eterno witnessed this first-hand as a precinct captain in New York City where, he says, cops issued “numerous summonses, stop-and-frisks, and arrests for relatively low-level things like marijuana possession.”
Often these were searches and detentions dictated by the “broken windows” concept of law enforcement that Eterno says has led to heavy-handed and disproportionate policing and arrests in lower-income minority neighborhoods in cities like New York.
“In terms of recruitment for these young minority kids, now that they have a criminal record, it’s much more difficult to get them into law enforcement,” he says.
But relaxing these disqualifying criteria would still leave another recruitment barrier: the stigma of joining the police, Wilson says.
“There is a significant amount of distrust and dissatisfaction with law enforcement," he says. "People I talk to nowadays say, ‘It ain’t cool to be the ‘po-po.’ ”
Recruitment is a challenge in the Latino community, too.
“Most Hispanics, where they come from, the countries they lived in, they don’t really like the police,” says Ismael Cano, a Mexican-American police officer with nearly a decade on the force in the small city of Pasco, Washington. “They don’t feel like they can trust police and call police to help them.”
Pasco’s demographics have changed in recent decades, as migrant farm workers settled down and took jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and services. Cano himself worked in the fields with his parents through junior high school and was a volunteer reserve officer before joining the Pasco Police Department in 2006. He appears every few weeks on local Spanish-language radio station KRCW to discuss policing and talk it up as a career option for young Latinos.
But then, he says, he’ll meet people at a party: “I’ll get in a group talking to people, and I’m proud of what I do, but they will start walking away, and usually by the end of the party, I end up in a corner by myself, because nobody wanted to talk to me.”
Pasco has had its share of conflict over race and policing lately after an unarmed Latino man, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was shot to death in February by three officers. Civil rights activists want a bigger Latino presence on the Pasco police force, but police Capt. Ken Roske insists Pasco’s doing pretty well.
“We’ve been praised by other cities for our workforce — it turns out to be about 21 percent Hispanic and/or Spanish-speaking officers,” Roske says. “Not that we want to stop there, and not that we don’t want to keep working and striving forward. We certainly want our department to mirror the community. It’s not as easy to accomplish that.”
Roske says it’s unrealistic to expect Pasco’s police department to match the majority Latino population. Some aren’t legal residents or don’t speak English, both of which would disqualify them from the force.
The city has had success in recruiting by paying a premium to Spanish-speaking officers and recruiting through the Boy Scouts Explorer program.
But police-trainer Michael Coker says departments need to do more. Coker’s a retired black officer from Portsmouth, Virginia, who offers courses all over the country. He says to recruit more minorities, departments have to offer more role models.
When he was in high school, Coker says he worked at the local police department as a clerk-typist, and a young black cadet would drive past him every day. “So he would give me a ride to work. A year later, he became a cop. I became a cadet, because he made it seem so cool. I did a ride-along, got in a car with him, and I was sucked in.”
Friday, May 29, 2015 5:00pm
The summer movie season is not exactly off to a strong start. The Memorial Day weekend box-office take was one of the lowest in years.
Disney’s lackluster “Tomorrowland” was partly to blame. It cost a couple hundred million dollars and brought in just over $40 million. But it wasn’t the only disappointment, and this weekend could bring more pain with the opening of Sony’s $40 million movie, “Aloha,” starring Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone. Early reviews have ranged between scathing and, well, scathing. According to emails leaked when Sony was hacked late last year, there were signs that the studio knew the picture was in trouble.
But movies aren’t like other products. You can’t test market them the same way as hamburgers and toothpaste. They can be very expensive to tweak. And at some point, you just have to turn out the lights and hope for the best.
For more, listen to the audio player above.
Friday, May 29, 2015 5:00pm
The number of homeless people in Los Angeles County has grown 12 percent in the last two years. New encampments have sprouted on sidewalks across the city, including a dozen or so tents just across the 110 Freeway from Los Angeles' downtown — in plain-sight of commuters passing on their way to work.
"People go by us and think we're invisible," Dennis Epping, 44, says. "It's frustrating and degrading."
Epping shares a tent with Christine Boyer, 52. The couple has been together for more than a decade. In the past, when they fell on hard times, they could rely on family.
"See, we could always go home," Boyer says. "But my mom died. So I don't have any parents left, or grandparents, or anything. So we just took to the road."
They have issues that keep them from holding down regular jobs. He has a felony record for burglary, and she has a spinal disability that makes it hard to stand or sit in the same position for long.
"I go panhandle everyday to make money because I'm not going to just sit here and rot," Boyer said. "I have to get up every day and go hustle at least $20 to $50. Otherwise, I don't feel like I've done anything."
They spend some of that money on laundry, which for Boyer, is a way to maintain some dignity. "There's a lot of clothes in the trash and all over the streets, because they give them away for free," she said. "You don't have to do your laundry."
Epping and Boyer say they could sleep inside at a shelter, but that would require them to separate and give away their 4-year-old dog. "It doesn't matter what we go through so long as we don't get pulled apart," Boyer said. "We're all we have. We don't have anything else."
The lack of a social safety net is a constant theme. At a neighboring tent, Anthony Colebar, 48, said he and his wife were pushed out of their low-income apartment so the new owner could raise the rent. They don't have friends or family to put them up, so they've been on the streets for about three weeks.
"I'm from Illinois," Colebar says. "I'm a journeyman. My dad was a journeyman. His dad was a journeyman. Can't find any work out here."
All his job prospects require a car, so he's saving up to buy wheels and looking for another cheap apartment.
"It's hard to save money when you're out here," he says. "There's no refrigerator to go to Food 4 Less and stock up on food. There's no way to heat water to eat noodles – ramen noodles – and stuff. So we eat a lot of lunch meat, a lot of sandwiches."
Colebar says he and his wife receive about $1,200 a month from government aid.
Even though he doesn't get paid for it, Colebar does some work every day, cleaning the sidewalk and gutters with a broom. He says his neighbors don't see any reason to help.
"They don't realize how good we have it right here," he says. "We don't have to take our tents down. There's businesses. People walk by here every day. You gotta keep it clean – they'll leave us alone. Because, until we find another place, this is where we're at."
The encampments aren't just downtown. Eight miles northeast, one tent after another lines the freeway along the Arroyo Seco riverbank.
Under a bridge, several dogs are guarding three tents. One belongs to Eddie Hanson, 23, who shares it with his 18-year-old girlfriend, Hope Hunter.
They been living under the bridge for three months. Eddie says he picked the spot for "the coverage. It's out of the rain. I'm able to get electricity and a few things I need as far as survival."
Many homeless campers pick sites under bridges and on property not patrolled by city police. Eddie Hanson, 23, and Hope Hunter, 18, have a tent, sofa and firepit under a bridge between the Arroyo Seco Parkway and the Arroyo Seco’s channel.Jeff Tyler/Marketplace
They get electricity by splicing into the line connected to a street light. Hanson collects about $700 a month in government assistance, and he makes a little extra from scavenging.
"I usually collect cans or scrap," he says. "Scrap metal. Copper. Whatever I can find laying on the side of the road out here. People throw out amazing trash."
He found a beat-up sofa that now sits in front of the fire-pit used for cooking.
"They expect homeless people to provide for themselves, as far as work," Hanson says. "But records or drug inabilities disallow them to get a job."
Hanson says he's been living on the street since he was 12. He has a record for assault and stealing cars. Hope Hunter says she's been homeless since she was 14. She was addicted to speed, but says she's sober now .
"I go to N.A. meetings regularly now just so I can stay clean," she says. "Just because I'm homeless doesn't mean I have to look homeless or act homeless. It's good not to live up to a stereotype that everyone already thinks. It's good to prove people wrong."
Hunter says she got her GED certificate at a homeless shelter when she was 17. "I've been looking for a job," she says. "But if you're homeless, a lot of them will be, like, 'Oh, you're homeless? We don't want you working here. How are you going to take a shower? How are you going to do all that?' "
They have plans to move off the street. Hunter has been in contact with her grandparents, who she expects will help her with $500 to buy a camper.
"I just found out I'm pregnant," she says, letting out a long sigh. "It's really stressful for me, because I can't take my baby home without having an address."
Friday, May 29, 2015 5:00pm
Talk about a bad week for the “beautiful game.” The corruption charges against FIFA officials are off-putting, yet there is no other live global event that provides the marketing reach that an event like FIFA's World Cup offers.
Some sponsors have left in the past, but current ones, like Visa and Coca-Cola, have big investments to think about as they consider their responses.
Rob Prazmark is the CEO of 21 Sports and Entertainment Marketing Group. “You could put the World Cup on the moon, and the amount of eyeballs watching it would not change," he says.
With a global audience of over 3 billion — remember, there are around 7 billion people on the entire planet — an advertising deal with the World Cup carries an enormous upside. And, FIFA still has three years until the next World Cup in Russia to repair its image.
“And if they don't,” Prazmark says, “the sponsors will either walk away, find a way to sue them or just let their contracts expire.
But don’t hold your breath on that happening says Jonathan Lee, managing director of marketing and strategy at Huge.
"Brands aren't going to walk away or bail on FIFA, unless the fans actually bail on football," Lee says.
That’s not going to happen, but with some much money and prestige on the line, corporate sponsors might exert pressure on Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s newly re-elected president, in other ways.
“Will they force him to reconsider proceedings going forward and the awarding of that 2022 World Cup?” asks Patrick Rishe, director of the Sports Business Program at Washington University in St. Louis.
Rishe says awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup was highly suspect to begin with, and advertisers like Coca Cola or Adidas won’t want their names dragged through the mud over and over again for the next seven years.