National / International News
A person flying a small drone-like device too close to the White House was taken into custody. It's another in a line of security instances around the White House.
John Sopko says the Afghans still do a poor job of managing the billions they get from the U.S. and he's documented the abuses. Still, he supports the ongoing U.S. efforts there.
The president met today with leaders from the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The U.S. plans to announce new military commitments to the countries.
A MillerCoors brewery here in L.A. has joined a drought awareness campaign this week.
The company says it's proud that it's been able to reduce the amount of water it uses in brewing — by more than a billion gallons.
Which, in all seriousness, is great. Honestly.
That's the less watery version of their beer?
Classical music sales have been struggling for years now. They make up just 1.4 percent of music consumption, compared to 29 percent for rock, according to a Nielsen survey last year. Symphonies from Nashville to Canada’s Prince Edward Island are dealing with mountains of debt. And audiences of classical music haven’t changed much, which makes it tough for artists who aren’t Andrea Bocelli to make it in the industry.
When Lara Downes, a classical pianist, describes what she does, she uses terms familiar to today’s generation of starving artists. Terms like "entrepreneurial" and "DIY."
“We’re in survival mode,” she says. “We need to build an audience. And we’re kind of tired of making music for the same people all the time.”
So Downes not only does the concert circuit, but she’s on social media, and she’s at schools. And she posts her work on sites like Soundcloud.
She’s hoping her music will land on fresh ears. At performances, she looks out into audiences and sees mostly older people who are there because they love Beethoven. Her job, she says, “is to find the person who could come to the concert hall because you get them curious about Beethoven.”
Audiences of classical music aren’t diverse, which is a challenge for the industry, says Michael Boriskin, artistic and executive director of Copland House. The organization promotes classical music through live performances and outreach programs.
Boriskin says touring is still the bedrock of an artist’s career. But they can’t just walk out onto a stage, perform, and go onto the next city. “Because there is so much competition for people’s attention,” he says.
Boriskin says that personal interaction is what makes the difference. And there’s a chance to sell a few CDs.
Walk into about any bookstore in Washington and they are hard to miss – all the books by presidential hopefuls.
James Webb has a book called “I Heard My Country Calling." Ben Carson's is “One Nation." Then of course there’s “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy” from Mike Huckabee.
“This is where we put the newest books that were released in paperback – so you can see right at the front is Hillary Clinton’s paperback: just came out last week,” says Mark Laframboise, the book buyer for the Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.
He points out other books, by Senator Marco Rubio, and Congressman Paul Ryan.
“Paul Ryan’s around sometimes," he says. "He was down in the coffee shop a couple weeks ago.”
This is ground-zero for political books, a hangout for politicians and political junkies. But Lafromboise says even here, the presidential campaign book usually has a short shelf life.
“A month, three weeks," he says.
So why write them?
“Candidates feel a lot of pressure to get their message out there in their words with their ideas, without the filters of lots and lots of other people,” says Lissa Muscatine, a former chief speechwriter for Hillary Clinton, who worked on most of Clinton’s books.
Now Muscatine owns Politics and Prose with her husband, Bradley Graham. Muscatine says the candidates’ books take many forms. Memoirs, or manifestos, laying out what they would do as president. Who buys these books? People like Gordon Mantler, a historian at George Washington University.
Mantler is browsing in the political section. He bought one of President Obama’s books: "Dreams from my Father."
“I didn’t feel like this was the typical memoir that’s setting up a presidential or national campaign,” Mentler says.
And that’s key.
“I think the most important thing is to write a book that the reader will find authentic,” says longtime publisher Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of the PublicAffairs publishing company.
He says political writers should open up about their lives. And say something original. And it doesn’t hurt if people are really interested in you. “Dreams from my Father” was published in 1995, but sales didn’t take off until after Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
And candidates shouldn't worry if their book is a total bomb — we’ve had some pretty bad writers win the White House.
In the middle of the night, Brenda Shapiro woke up and thought: “LibbyLicious.” The perfect name for a small baking business built from a mandel bread recipe handed down by her husband’s grandmother, Libby.
Unfortunately, the South Florida baker did not wake up with a social media strategy.
“This is why I have my daughter-in-law do this for me,” Shapiro said, “I’m busy baking, delivering, packaging, going out and selling my cookies myself. I’m a one-person show.”
There were 28.2 million small businesses in the United States in 2011, the most recent year of data available from the U.S. Small Business Administration. For mom and pop, the ins and outs of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram can prove tricky.
When Brenda Shapiro quit her job as a surgical assistant at 50 years old, it certainly wasn't to pursue a life-long love of hashtags and status updates. She was following her passion for baking. Shapiro’s social media strategy for LibbyLicious is to take pictures and send them to her daughter-in-law, who posts those pictures to the company’s social media accounts. As a result, Shapiro couldn’t actually remember her own Twitter handle.
“It’s ‘LibbyLibicious.co,’” she said. When it was pointed out to her that periods aren’t allowed in a Twitter username, she guessed again: “Just ‘LibbyLicious’?”
Actually it’s @LibbyLiciousCo.
Last year, the social networking site LinkedIn published a survey that found most small businesses are most concerned with attracting new customers. And that they’re banking on social media as part of the solution.
One potential reason: the voice of a single stranger on social media could hold irrational power.
“Remember back to the days when there were Blockbuster video stores?” said Angela Hausman, who runs the social media marketing firm Hausman and Associates. “Other customers would come up behind us and see us looking at a video box and say, ‘Oh yeah! I really liked that movie.’ Or, ‘no! That was a really stupid movie. Don’t get that...’ We believed them!”
Marcus Messner, a social marketing professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, says getting people to talk about your brand is a first step. “I think the real challenge is to go beyond people liking your Facebook page or following your Twitter account.” The Holy Grail, Messner said, is to “actually have them do something: Have them buy your product, show up at your store.”
In 2009, before its reality TV debut on TLC, Georgetown Cupcake started turning followers into customers by posting a daily secret flavor on Twitter and Facebook. The “FREE (not-on-menu)” cupcake goes to the first 100 customers who show up and ask for the flavor by name: “Vanilla caramel hazelnut” on the day this story was written.@GTownCupcake/Twitter
Sofie Kallinis LaMontagne, who started the company with her sister Katherine Kallinis Berman, says they use social media to pull back the curtain on their business.
“Secret flavor is one of those ways,” LaMontagne said. “It’s giving [customers] an inside look at flavors we’re developing, things that are not quite on the menu yet. And they feel like they’re a part of the experience.”
Brenda Shapiro, the one-woman, mandel bread-baking show, doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location to lure customers into just yet. She’s still working on building her social media identity.
Niklas Myhr, a blogger and assistant professor at Chapman University, had a few specific ideas for Shapiro.
For starters, he said, “it could help to have a sort of backstory.” To tell people about Grandma Libby and her history and her recipe.
Also, he says, small business owners are experts in their fields. Hone that expertise and write posts that are informative, “something that is not just looking like an ad,” he said.
Finally, listen to people online. Be helpful.
“The same principles that Dale Carnegie wrote about in ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ still apply in the digital era,” said Myhr.
Chipotle made headlines last month for its decision to remove genetically modified ingredients from the food at its 1,800 stores.
Now, the Associated Press reports that the United States Department of Agriculture plans to start issuing its own certification for foods that are “GMO free." There are currently no government labels that certify a food as GMO-free, nothing akin to Department of Agriculture’s “certified organic” label.
But, in a letter obtained by the AP, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack describes a plan to roll out a voluntary “GMO Free” distinction that companies can pay to get; a government certification that could be a marketing advantage. The label was requested by a large food company.
Brian Yarbrough is a consumer research analyst with Edward Jones.
“The natural organic food industry is exploding with growth and the regular food industry is just struggling,” Yarbrough says. “If you are just a core center-of-the-aisle, a Kraft Food or a Kellogg's, you can go back and look at the results, growth is hard to come by."
Yarbrough says it’s too soon to tell if “GMO free” will achieve the same market appeal that organic has.
But consumer groups pushing for GMO disclosure aren’t thrilled.
“We think this is an outrageous move,” Katherine Paul, associate director of the Organic Consumers Association, says. The group supports laws requiring companies to disclose all GMO ingredients.
Making it easier for consumers to find GMO-free food is a good thing, Paul says, but "not if it's going to cause the manufacturers of those products to have to charge consumers more because they had to pay for that certification."
Food companies oppose mandatory disclosure of GMOs, citing scientific consensus that GMO food is safe.
The Department of Agriculture has not said when it will start issuing the labels.
There are possible ways to check your food labels though. KQED's Mike Kahn breaks down how to read Price Look-up Codes (PLUs) to look for conventional, organic and GMO produce.
The NFL Players Association, which filed the appeal on behalf of the New England Patriots quarterback, is calling for a neutral arbitrator to hear the appeal.
The city has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the U.S. Many residents there drop coverage — or claim they live outside the city limits. The mayor has a plan to cut the cost of insurance.