National / International News

Anger mounts as Gaza toll rises

BBC - 1 hour 28 min ago
The US and UN condemn the shelling of a UN school housing civilians in Gaza, as Palestinians say Israeli attacks kill more than 100 in the day.

Dozens trapped by Indian landslide

BBC - 1 hour 38 min ago
At least 20 people are killed after a landslide buries more than 40 houses and leaves up to 200 people trapped in a village in western India.

Foxconn's newest product: a college degree

There are a lot of lines at a typical Foxconn factory in China. There’s the assembly line, where thousands of young people – typically high school dropouts – put together each and every part of an iPad. It’s tedious, mind-numbing work, and that’s why assembly line workers usually don’t stick around very long. They quit, and that necessitates another line: The hiring line outside a Foxconn factory is, at any given time, hundreds of applicants long, migrants from the countryside who arrive each day to replace workers who’ve quit. When you consider the manufacturer has a million workers – it’s China’s largest private employer – this labor cycle isn’t surprising.

But it is costly.

“The turnover rate is pretty high and it’s impossible to retain all our workers," says Li Yong Zhong, a manager at Foxconn's Chengdu plant, "But we’d like every employee to be able to develop and improve their knowledge, skills and income so that they’ll want to stay here.”

That’s the rationale behind what the company calls Foxconn University, a company-wide accredited university system that offers employees a chance at earning a high school diploma, a bachelor’s, a master’s or a PhD without leaving the factory campus.

Inside the classroom one afternoon, a professor teaches a computer animation class to students at Foxconn’s plant in Chengdu, a factory devoted to making iPads. Instead of assembling Apple products, each one of these workers is using an Apple computer to follow the professor’s instructions. Thirty-six year-old Ai Guo, an assembly line worker who spends his days inspecting iPads for flaws, sits in front of the class.

“I dropped out of school when I was 16," says Ai during a class break. "My family was very poor, and they needed me to help out on the farm.”

It's a typical story for the hundreds of millions of young rural Chinese who drop out of school to farm or find work at factories like Foxconn. Ai hopes to spend the next six years of his time away from work studying toward the equivalent of a high school diploma and then a bacehlor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. “With that, I’d like to get a promotion to start working on industrial automation and, of course, raise my salary," he says.

Foxconn’s university system offers 25 majors – most of them in engineering. The company has an agreement with more than 50 Chinese universities and colleges that send their professors each day to teach classes at its factories across China.

But it's not only Foxconn – in-house university systems are becoming a trend among China’s state-owned companies, says Richard Brubaker, founder of Collective Responsibility, an organization that trains companies in corporate social responsibility. Brubaker says he’s encouraged by Foxconn University – he says it shows the company sees its line workers as more than machines with 5-year shelf lives. “Many of these individuals could, if they were invested into, come into the organization at a much higher level, and much like a UPS driver becomes a CEO, they could become the future management and executives of the company and who know the company so intimately that they’re the ones who can look at risk, look at decisions very differently than an outsider could,” Brubaker says.

The development of an in-house university system comes at a pivotal moment for Foxconn. CEO Terry Gou is 63, and he’s thinking about his legacy. He’s moving the company away from making products for others and toward developing Foxconn’s own products.

“We want our employees to become more innovative and creative, more entrepreneurial,” says Foxconn’s Li Yong Zhong.

But so far, participation in Foxconn University is low: just 3 percent of Foxconn’s one million Chinese workers. Li assures me that will change. "Someday, every one of our employees will study at Foxconn University – we’ll no longer call them workers," he says. "We’ll call them students."

Masked gang jailed for family attack

BBC - 2 hours 5 min ago
A masked gang beat and stabbed an innocent family after targeting the wrong home in a scene from a horror film, a court hears.

Senators in campus sex assault push

BBC - 2 hours 30 min ago
A cross-party group of US senators introduce a bill aimed at reducing sexual assault on university campuses.

NHS 'can deal with' UK Ebola threat

BBC - 2 hours 36 min ago
The Ebola virus poses a threat to the UK but health services here have the experience to deal with it, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says.

Fed Continues To Scale Back Economic Stimulus

NPR News - 2 hours 42 min ago

The Fed announced modest cuts in its bond-buying program and noted that inflation is becoming an issue. But with room to grow in the labor market, the bank is not ready to raise interest rates.

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US economic growth surges by 4%

BBC - 2 hours 43 min ago
The US economy grew by 4% in the second quarter, according to a preliminary reading by the US Department of Commerce, beating expectations.

Six dead in Nigeria college blast

BBC - 3 hours 12 min ago
At least six people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a college in northern Nigeria's biggest city, Kano, witnesses say.

Broody octopus keeps four-year vigil

BBC - 3 hours 19 min ago
A deep-sea octopus has been observed nursing her eggs for more than four years - the longest brooding time seen in any animal.

Women Defy Turkey's Deputy PM, Who Said Women Shouldn't Laugh In Public

NPR News - 3 hours 23 min ago

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç was expounding on what an ideal chaste woman should be. Women around the world reacted by taking pictures of themselves laughing.

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VIDEO: Fire rips through Eastbourne Pier

BBC - 3 hours 24 min ago
A huge fire is ripping through Eastbourne Pier in East Sussex.

Strike on Gaza market 'kills 17'

BBC - 3 hours 25 min ago
At least 17 people are killed and 160 hurt as an Israeli strike hits a market crowded with shoppers near Gaza City, Palestinian officials say.

Problem Drinking In Midlife Linked To Memory Trouble Later

NPR News - 3 hours 26 min ago

One study suggests middle-aged adults with a history of problem drinking may be twice as likely to develop serious memory issues as the years wear on.

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Back-to-school sticker shock

The annual back-to-school spendathon is almost here. And for public-school parents, it’s going to be pricey.

Huntington Bank is out with its annual "backpack index," which tracks the cost of school supplies. The bad news: elementary school kids will need $642 in extras this year, middle-school kids will spend an additional $918, and high school students will get hit up for an additional $1,284.

Those estimates translate to an 11 percent jump, 20 percent jump, and 5 percent jump, respectively.

The biggest bumps are expected to come from higher standardized-testing fees, and fees for things like school trips, music classes and sports, according to Huntington. Many middle-school kids will also need a graphing calculator, which can run nearly $130.

Huntington didn’t include laptops or tablets in its index. But many parents will be facing extra costs for those, as well.

Since Huntington started tracking the cost of school supplies in 2007, the bank estimates they have increased 83 percent for elementary school students, 73 percent for middle school students and 44 percent for high school students.

Here’s a guide, from the group, on what you can expect this year.

England close in on win over India

BBC - 3 hours 29 min ago
England will be confident of beating India in the third Test to level the series, after setting them a target of 445.

Sierra Leone Doctor Who Led The Fight Against Ebola Dies

NPR News - 3 hours 34 min ago

Hailed as a "national hero," Dr. Sheik Umar Khan had treated more than 100 Ebola patients before catching the virus himself last week.

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'Dozens of bodies' at Libya base

BBC - 3 hours 38 min ago
At least 35 bodies are reportedly recovered from a military base that was overrun by Islamist-led militias in the Libyan city of Benghazi.

Whitlock wins second gymnastics gold

BBC - 3 hours 55 min ago
England's Max Whitlock leads from start to finish to win Commonwealth Games individual all-around gymnastics gold medal.

Mystery of lemon-shaped Moon solved

BBC - 4 hours 5 min ago
Tides and spin gave the Moon its strange lemon shape more than four billion years ago, research reveals.
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