National / International News

Man dead and woman hurt in shooting

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 07:03
A man is found dead and a woman is critically injured at a house they shared in Nottinghamshire.

McDonald's fast food advice becomes corporate PR lesson

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2013-12-27 06:59

McDonald's announced today it will take down its McResource website - an internal resource for employees to ostensibly get help on things from eating right to saving money. 

Why? A labor group used the website and resource line to ridicule McDonalds for paying its workers minimum wage. To be fair, McDonalds did make it kind of easy.  The third party vendor that put the website together included some suggestions that seemed a little... awkward.  For example, if you’re feeling stressed out, try taking at least two vacations a year.  Or there was an instance in which an alleged McResource agent tried to help an employee get on food stamps. 

There were tweets, there were videos, there were news stories.  It was a classic public relations nightmare:  company information gets out, without the accompanying context. 

“There’s always been information that the company didn’t want to get out, but now it’s so much easier to get it out,” says Lisa Orndorff, manager of employee relations and engagement at the Society for Human Resource Management. 

The line between internal and external has become treacherously thin in corporate America, and companies are taking notice. 

For starters, Orndorff says companies over the years have tried to clamp down harder on leaks, with things like confidentiality agreements and strict rules about who represents the company on Twitter or Facebook. 

“Justin Bieber did something similar for a party a few weeks ago," says Jonah Berger, professor of marketing at the Wharton School.  "[Bieber] had a party at his house and said, "Hey, if you’re going to be here, you have to sign a confidentiality agreement.  Three million dollars if you break it."  And Berger says companies have taken a similar approach. 

It’s no longer just the outside face of the company that needs managing.  Daren Brabham, who teaches public relations and new media at USC's Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, says internal communications, “or employee communications, or employee relations used to be this one domain of public relations that wasn’t necessarily ignored, but wasn’t necessarily emphasized either.” 

Brabham says one of the ways to prevent leaks is to improve company culture, which means internal information needs to be not just controlled, but managed.

It’s a testament to the fact that it only takes one leak to cause a flood of negative PR.  And that is a function of the era of social media, where a company can find itself retweeted onto the front page of Buzzfeed and a half million Facebook pages in minutes.

And just as decontextualized information can race across the internet, so can simple bad experiences.  Every bad tweet can become a public relations fail. 

“It’s much more of a microlevel management of individual relationships,” says Brabham, “because those things can tip out of control on social media and go viral.”

So what does this brave new world of digital peril mean?   A lot of new PR jobs.  The industry grew 8% last year.  

What's the cost when unemployment benefits expire?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2013-12-27 06:59

On December 28, 2013, federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits expire for 1.3 million Americans. Another 1.9 million of the long-term unemployed (those actively searching for work for six months or longer) will run out by mid-2014.

Before its Christmas recess, Congress passed a budget compromise but failed to extend the federal EUC program that pays benefits after people run out of state unemployment insurance checks, which typically last six months. Congressional Democrats say they’ll push to renew the program as soon as they’re back in Washington after the New Year. They argue that the U.S. has typically kept paying these extended benefits when unemployment is this high after a recession. Long-term unemployment, meanwhile, is at near-record highs, at 37.3 percent (November 2013).

Extending the EUC program next year would cost the federal government more than $25 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Advocates for the unemployed argue that cutting off the funding shrinks consumer spending in the economy by even more. Recipients tend to spend unemployment benefits right away in the local economy on basic necessities such as food, rent, utilities, and medicine. That supports neighborhood retailers and sustains employment in high-unemployment areas.

The cutoff will hurt most in states with high long-term unemployment, explains Mitchell Hirsch at the National Employment Law Project. He cites in particular California, Arizona, Nevada, as well as states in the Midwest and Northeast such as New Jersey, Michigan, and Illinois. He points out that EUC sustains many older workers who suffer disproportionately from long-term unemployment after they’re laid off; many of them had well-paying, steady jobs, were closely attached to the labor force, were eligible for unemployment compensation, but have trouble getting back into the workforce.

Dusty Miller is 51 and lives near Rockford, Illinois—unemployment 10.5 percent. “We’re still seeing plants closing, we’ve seen a lot of business leaving the area,” Miller says.

Miller was director of defense contracts at Ryan International Airlines, which shut down early this year—he was kept on until February to help wind operations down. He’s been on unemployment since then. His wife is retired, and he says they aren’t living hand to mouth--not yet.

“Fortunately, I was in a position where we had planned for this and had monies tucked away for it,” says Miller. “Worst case, I’d go out and work at a 7-11 or something if I had to.” At the moment, he’s pursuing several prospects for management jobs in aerospace and manufacturing that he thinks will obviate that need.

At Totally You Hair Salon just off Interstate 90 in Rockford, manager Tammy Parker says she doesn’t see a lot of drop-off in spending among her middle-class clientele. She thinks even the unemployed will keep coming in, at least for a while.

“I think you find a way to color your hair, cover the grey,” says Parker. “If I’ve seen any kind of slump it’s in our aestheticians. People are maybe not getting a facial that they might have treated themselves to prior.”

In San Bernardino, California—unemployment 9.8 percent—Troy Ballard at Troy’s Beauty and Barber Salon says his business will definitely suffer from the cutoff of long-term unemployment benefits.

“It impacts us greatly,” he says, “because if you’re not employed you can’t get your hair done.”

Ballard hears plenty of stories in the chair, so he knows right away if someone’s hit a rough patch.

“Sometimes if I have a customer who’s been coming to me on a regular basis,” he says, “if they lose their job, I’ll still try to let them keep coming. They’re still getting interviews” and need to keep looking their best, he says.

Ballard’s generosity while people are unemployed—especially if they’ve run out of benefits—will help them spend whatever money they have on necessities: food, rent, and utilities.

Indian woman 'raped by two gangs'

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 06:58
Police in India say 10 men are in custody, after a 21-year-old woman was abducted and raped by two apparently unconnected groups of men on Christmas Eve.

Mauling of girl, 3, divides family

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 06:48
The mauling of a three-year-old girl by a husky divides a family after the girl's step-grandfather says there is "no point" in putting down his pet.

Deadly floods hit south-east Brazil

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 06:40
Dozens of people are killed after heavy rains cause flooding and landslides in the south-eastern Brazilian states of Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais.

UKIP 'to completely change politics'

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 06:36
The UK Independence Party will "completely change British politics" if it wins next year's European elections, head of policy Tim Aker says.

Classic 70s and 80s games go online

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 06:21
Classic video games from the 1970s and 1980s have been put online by the Internet Archive and can be played within a web browser.

Greenpeace 'Arctic 30' head home after being freed by Russia

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2013-12-27 06:14

After being held in Russia for 100 days on charges of hooliganism, 30 Greenpeace activists are free to return to their home countries today. The group had been protesting oil drilling in the Arctic by state owned oil and gas company Gazprom. The BBC's Oleg Boldyrev has the latest on the story. Click the audio player above to hear more.

Three NATO Personnel Killed By Bombing In Afghanistan

NPR News - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:59

The attack comes as Afghan President Hamid Karzai continues to deliberate over a security pact with the U.S. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

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Pylon collapses into Mayobridge home

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:58
An electricity pylon crashes into two homes in County Down on Thursday night.

Europe's moments of 2013

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:57
Gavin Hewitt on Merkel, Pope, migrants and Berlusconi

Soldiers killed in Mogadishu blast

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:56
At least 11 people, including six soldiers, are killed by a remote-controlled bomb in a restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu, witnesses say.

Iran dissidents 'killed in Iraq'

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:56
A rocket attack kills three members of an Iranian opposition group in Iraq, the group and its parent organisation say.

Okinawa Governor OKs Plan To Relocate U.S. Base

NPR News - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:52

The project would involve land reclamation for a new base that would consolidate the U.S. presence on the Japanese island. Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima's decision Friday is a reversal of his pledge to move the controversial base out of Okinawa. His decision has been criticized.

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West Brom close in on new manager

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:45
West Brom hold talks with several managerial candidates on Friday as they close in on Steve Clarke's replacement.

Cardiff City sack manager Mackay

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:43
Malky Mackay is sacked as manager by Cardiff City after a meeting of the club's board of directors.

Christmas recap edition: This week's Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:40

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

This week, Zach Seward, senior editor for Quartz, talks tech and takes the test.

Play along at home, below.

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Patient infected with Hep C at ERI

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:25
NHS Lothian apologises for "failings" in procedures after a patient was infected with Hepatitis C through cross-contamination at ERI.

Body found on beach 'not suspicious'

BBC - Fri, 2013-12-27 05:24
A body found on a beach at Porthcawl in south Wales is that of a 24-year-old local man , say police.

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