National News

American Apparel boots CEO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-19 01:30

The head of American Apparel, Dov Charney, has been sacked, the board announced in a statement.

Charney built American Apparel – the clothing line known for its racy ad campaigns and emphasis on American-made products – out of a tshirt business in his dorm room at Tufts University. He was an outspoken opponent of sweatshop labor and a prominent advocate for immigration reform.

He was also a weird guy.

“It’s important that every generation there’s going to be people that push boundaries, and those are my people,” Charney told Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal in an interview earlier in 2014. Ryssdal asked Charney what his biggest weakness was, to which he replied: “my biggest weakness is me, lock me up already. It’s obvious! Put me in a cage, I’ll be fine. You know, I’m my own worst enemy. But what can you do, I was born strange.”

Charney has been the subject of numerous lawsuits alleging sexual harassment or mistreatment, including one alleged incident where he rubbed dirt in the face of a store manager. All of the suits, which Charney and American Apparel have previously said were frivolous attempts at extracting money, have been dismissed or settled.

The board, it would appear, got tired of either the negative attention, or Charney’s personal idiosyncrasies, or both. In any case, some event appears to have given them what they needed to make a move; the board cited an “ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct.”

For now, the company’s CFO John Luttrell is taking over as interim CEO.

But succession is often difficult for large companies.

“Think about what you learned in history or the Bible,” says Joseph Bower, Baker Foundation professor at Harvard Business School. “How often were successions smooth, as opposed to how often did sons kill fathers, fathers kill sons, wars happen.”

Plus, it’s not every CEO that is cooperative. “Succession is also about power, and you’re asking someone to give up power,” he says. 

Whoever takes over American Apparel for the long haul will have a difficult challenge. The company posted a net loss of $106.3 million in 2013, a $ 5.5 million loss for the first quarter of 2014, and is selling $30.5 million in stock to pay its debts.

American Apparel also noted that the change in management may have triggered a default, a status it is negotiating with creditors.

NPR Poll: In Senate Battleground States, Obama Ratings Lag

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 01:01

According to a new NPR poll, in the 12 states with competitive Senate races this fall, only 38 percent of likely voters said they approved of the way the president is handling his job.

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National Data Confirm Cases Of Restraint And Seclusion In Public Schools

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-19 01:00

A controversial practice to tie, hold down or seclude agitated students mostly impacts kids with disabilities. Schools say it's for safety, but opponents say it's dangerous and a civil rights issue.

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SAT gets the rejection letter from Hampshire College

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 23:21

You’re a high-school senior applying to a competitive college where the SAT and ACT are optional.  You want to  skip the test, but your inner nag says, “if you don’t submit your scores, you’re not getting in.”

Starting in the fall, Hampshire College in Amherst, MA,  won’t look at your scores, even if you do submit them. Not for admissions, or to evaluate students for scholarships. The small, liberal-arts college used to make test scores optional.

It was hardly alone. Since 2005 the list of schools switching to test-optional admissions keeps growing. There are 150 top- tier schools on the list now.

But scrapping standardized tests completely can come with a cost.  Sarah Lawrence College in New York, stopped collecting SAT scores in 2005 from applicants, but went back to doing it in 2012. Without those stats, it was removed from the U.S. News & World Report college rankings.

In explaining their decision, Hampshire administrators went for the well-worn arguments about the tests’ bias against low-income and disadvantaged students.  Administrators also pointed to what they believe is an over reliance on tests, in general, as a means of evaluation:

At Hampshire, students receive detailed evaluations from professors rather than letter grades. Classroom discussions, written work, and projects are evaluated. But not, according to the school, “ through the use of “tests” in the traditional sense.”

Hampshire’s move comes not long  before the debut of a revamped SAT  in 2016. The new  test will put more focus on demonstrating knowledge and skills that the College Board —the test’s creator—believes are most important for college and career readiness.

U.S. Plan To House Immigrant Kids In Tiny Va. Town Rattles Residents

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 23:01

Federal officials have struck a deal to detain unaccompanied migrant children at an empty college in Lawrenceville, a town of 1,400 people. But local pushback has put the plan on hold.

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Still Learning From The 'Pearl Harbor' Of The Civil Rights Movement

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 22:59

Fifty years ago, three civil rights workers were killed by Ku Klux Klan members in Mississippi. Organizers who pushed for justice then are now educating youth so they can continue to call for change.

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Kershaw Throws No-Hitter, Dodgers Rout Rockies 8-0

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 22:29

Clayton Kershaw pitched his first no-hitter, striking out a career-high 15 and allowing his only baserunner on a throwing error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the victory over Colorado.

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How Your State Rates In Terms Of Long-Term Care

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 20:04

AARP ranked each state and Washington, D.C. according to the cost and quality of long-term care and support services. An online scorecard helps consumers compare services in each region.

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3rd Inmate Executed After April's Botched Lethal Injection

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 16:01

John Ruthell Henry was put to death in Florida after inmates in Georgia and Missouri became the first and second to be executed in the wake of a failed lethal injection two months ago.

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Onetime Auschwitz Guard Arrested In Philadelphia On German Warrant

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 15:51

Johann Breyer, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1952, is being sought by German authorities in connection with the deaths of 216,000 Jews at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during World War II.

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Grappling With Gangs, Salt Lake City Turns To Racketeering Laws

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 15:04

Law enforcement in Utah's capital is using federal organized-crime charges to try to rein in groups like the Tongan Crips. One officer says it's sometimes the only way to send a message to criminals.

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Iraq's Meltdown Troubles U.S. Political Waters

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 14:44

Iraq has a long history of roiling American politics. And that doesn't appear likely to change anytime soon.

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Warnings Against Antidepressants For Teens May Have Backfired

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 14:34

After the Food and Drug Administration said that antidepressants could spur suicidal thinking in teens, doctors prescribed the drugs less often. The change may have led to more suicides.

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Why a lot of recalled cars and trucks never get fixed

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 13:59

If history is any guide, a significant number of the cars GM has recalled this year may never get repaired, because the owners won’t end up bringing them to the shop. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that only about 75 percent of recalled cars and trucks get fixed.

The used-car company Carfax keeps a database with the VIN number of every car or truck that’s under recall.  “Our data suggests that right now there are at least 36 million cars across the U.S. that have a recall that has not been fixed,” says *Chris Basso from Carfax.  

Older cars are less likely to get brought in, according to research from economist George Hoffer, who has studied the auto industry for decades. He says that’s partly because many are on a second or third owner— who may not be in touch with a dealer. “And, the older the car, probably you’re more fiscally challenged,” he says, “and the last thing you want is for the dealer to start mining for other things and to say, ‘You know, while you’re here, we found this.’”

Also, a lot of recall notices may have gotten tossed out as junk mail. Bill Powers, a roofing contractor from the Chicago suburbs, owns three cars. Asked if any of them had ever been recalled, he paused. “Ooh. I don’t know,” he said, and laughed, shaking his head. “I guess I should probably know if they’ve had recalls, right?”

Does he ever get mail from his car dealer he doesn’t open?  “Yeah, quite a bit.”  More rueful laughter.

In February, hoping to improve on that 75 percent rate for repairs, NHTSA required carmakers to add a big label to recall notices. It looks like this:

But that rate doesn’t sound so bad compared to recalled child car seats. According to NHTSA, just 30 percent of those get repaired.

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the company that provides repair histories on used cars. The company is Carfax. The article has been corrected.

Yes, the Redskins can still sell Redskins gear

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 13:59

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has ruled that the Washington Redskins trademark cannot be registered because it disparages Native Americans.

But the decision is expected to have a limited financial impact: The team can still sell Redskins merchandise.

The ruling makes it harder to defend against counterfeit imports from abroad -- but it’s not like the team is suddenly very vulnerable.

“Generally speaking, if someone is selling counterfeit Redskins gear, Redskins would still be able to go to court to shut them down,” says UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh.

Team owner Daniel Snyder has resisted pressure to change the Redskin’s name. Even though a name-change would mess with traditions, it could also inspire die-hard fans to go out and spend money on new T-shirts, caps or coffee mugs.

“It would be a financial windfall for the team from a marketing standpoint,” says Dan Bruton, a sports marketing professor at San Diego State University.

But the Redskins don't appear any closer to changing the name.

In a written statement, the team’s lawyer says the Redskins plan to appeal the trademark decision.

National Data Confirm Cases Of Restraint And Seclusion In Public Schools

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-18 13:59

A controversial practice to tie, hold down or seclude agitated students mostly impacts kids with disabilities. Schools say it's for safety, but opponents say it's dangerous and a civil rights issue.

» E-Mail This

What does the Majority Leader do? Brings in the cash

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 13:57

House Republicans are electing a new majority leader Thursday. What exactly does the majority leader do? Job number one: Keep the majority. To do that you need money. Lots of it. 

“The majority leader has the dirty work,” says Paul Light, professor of public policy at NYU. 

He estimates that House majority leaders spend about 30 percent of their time raising money, but it’s not just fundraising. They also have to man the firehose of campaign cash that’s gushing in.

“There is so much money," Light explains. "The majority leader has to work to see whether it can get deployed to places where it’s needed.”

Republican Kevin McCarthy of California is expected to win the House majority leader vote. He’s already raised a lot of money for other Republican House members, whose votes he'll be counting on.

“Just like the godfather did, you call on your beneficiaries to give you a service, and in this case the service is supporting him for majority leader, ” says Jack Pitney, who teaches government at Claremont McKenna College.

Of course, Democrats do this too. But it wasn’t always this intense; the money race got tougher after Republicans took control of the House after the 1994 elections, ending decades of Democratic control. Dan Glickman of Kansas was one of the Democrats voted out that year. He says now that the House is in play, you need more money to stay in control.

“I think the competitive nature of the House certainly ups the ante,” he says.

Glickman says it ups the ante for the minority leader as well, who’s also out raising money to try to reclaim control of the House. 

Smartphones: nuisance or teaching tool?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 13:53

Teachers are kind of  like parents, sometimes. You push them long enough and they come around. Or sometimes, they just get tired of fighting.

Project Tomorrow, a non-profit education group, surveyed thousands of teachers, librarians and district officials in 2010, to gauge their attitudes about mobile devices in the classroom.  Sixty-three percent said they weren’t likely to allow students to use them anytime soon; 22 percent said it was likely they would allow mobile devices in class soon, and three percent said their students were already using them in the classroom.

Fast forward to 2013. Fifty-one percent said either they were already allowing mobile devices, or would likely be allowing them in the classroom.  That compares to 32 percent, who said it was unlikely they would allow phones, tablets and the rest into classrooms.

Our own unscientific survey of classroom-tech policies,  found that teachers have lots concerns about mobile devices, particularly smartphones.  Teachers worried about students being distracted, cheating on tests and more.  Even teachers who use laptops or tablets in class said smart phone use is a big problem.  

Tom Odendahl, an economics and history teacher at a Minneapolis high school, wrote that he has agreed to let some students use laptops and tablets, but can't imagine how a smartphone could be put to good use:

As I write I can envision ways to use devices, but I keep coming up against the reality of how my students use cell phones, and it is not for clarifying questions, or fact-checking my often absurd pronouncements. One popular service I have witnessed during class is shopping for prom dresses.

At the same time,  quite a few teachers said they have have started to allow smart phone use in the class.  Paul Isom is a professor at North Carolina University.

I find students generally use them appropriately, rarely perusing facebook, instagram, etc (except during breaks), and often using them to find answers to questions that come up in class. In more than one case, they've proven very helpful when a question arises. Anyway, to fight the students over laptops/phones/tablets would be tilting at windmills.

 Pam Pailes, the Dean of Students at Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, is among those who will make the transition iin the fall.  Her school will switch to a "BYOD" (bring-your-own-device) policy.  Pailes says there’s more upside than downside:

In a traditional classroom, we are asking them to learn in a way that seems stodgy and boring to many young people. In their minds, they can learn so much more if they could just "find it on the internet." Allowing laptops, tablets, phones, etc., into the classroom allows us to educate students to be better cyber-citizens and helps us teach them to use the information available on the web in a balanced and appropriately skeptical.

Smartphone: nuisance or teaching tool?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 13:53

Teachers are kind of  like parents, sometimes. You push them long enough and they come around. Or sometimes, they just get tired of fighting.

Project Tomorrow, a non-profit education group, surveyed thousands of teachers, librarians and district officials in 2010, to gauge their attitudes about mobile devices in the classroom.  Sixty-three percent said they weren’t likely to allow students to use them anytime soon; 22 percent said it was likely they would allow mobile devices in class soon, and three percent said their students were already using them in the classroom.

Fast forward to 2013. Fifty-one percent said either they were already allowing mobile devices, or would likely be allowing them in the classroom.  That compares to 32 percent, who said it was unlikely they would allow phones, tablets and the rest into classrooms.

Our own unscientific survey of classroom-tech policies,  found that teachers have lots concerns about mobile devices, particularly smartphones.  Teachers worried about students being distracted, cheating on tests and more.  Even teachers who use laptops or tablets in class said smart phone use is a big problem.  

Tom Odendahl, an economics and history teacher at a Minneapolis high school, wrote that he has agreed to let some students use laptops and tablets, but can't imagine how a smartphone could be put to good use:

As I write I can envision ways to use devices, but I keep coming up against the reality of how my students use cell phones, and it is not for clarifying questions, or fact-checking my often absurd pronouncements. One popular service I have witnessed during class is shopping for prom dresses.

At the same time,  quite a few teachers said they have have started to allow smart phone use in the class.  Paul Isom is a professor at North Carolina University.

I find students generally use them appropriately, rarely perusing facebook, instagram, etc (except during breaks), and often using them to find answers to questions that come up in class. In more than one case, they've proven very helpful when a question arises. Anyway, to fight the students over laptops/phones/tablets would be tilting at windmills.

 Pam Pailes, the Dean of Students at Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, is among those who will make the transition iin the fall.  Her school will switch to a "BYOD" (bring-your-own-device) policy.  Pailes says there’s more upside than downside:

In a traditional classroom, we are asking them to learn in a way that seems stodgy and boring to many young people. In their minds, they can learn so much more if they could just "find it on the internet." Allowing laptops, tablets, phones, etc., into the classroom allows us to educate students to be better cyber-citizens and helps us teach them to use the information available on the web in a balanced and appropriately skeptical.

AT & T and Udacity partner up on a degree

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-18 13:51
<a href="http://marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/tech-degrees">View Survey</a>
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