National / International News

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Takes White House To Task Over Privacy

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-13 14:20

In an open letter, the Facebook co-founder said the U.S. should be "a champion for the internet, not a threat."

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Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Benfica

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 14:17
Tottenham will need to turn around a two-goal deficit after losing to Benfica in the first leg of the Europa League last-16 tie.

Multiple labor lawsuits hit McDonald's

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-13 14:16

McDonald’s faces lawsuits in three states this week from workers who allege the fast-food giant violated labor laws by failing to pay overtime, making them work off the clock, failing to give them breaks, and making them pay for uniforms or uniform cleaning. The suits, seeking class-action status, were filed in New York, Michigan, and California, and could ultimately represent 30,000 or more workers, the plaintiff lawyers said in a press conference. The event was organized by labor-union-backed advocates, who are also pushing for a $15 per-hour wage industry-wide.

A novel aspect of the lawsuits is that they try to tie McDonald’s—and its valuable brand—to alleged wage and hour violations at franchise restaurants that the company neither owns nor directly operates. Lawyer Michael Rubin at Altshuler Berzon in San Francisco is representing a group of McDonald’s workers in California, and has pursued similar class-action cases against Walmart on behalf of temporary workers at its contracted warehouses near Los Angeles.

“The McDonald’s corporate entity was sued as well,” Rubin said, “as a joint employer, and as a principal agent, co-conspirator, negligent franchisor.”

Evidence that will be presented in the case includes software McDonald’s provides to franchises to reduce labor costs.

The company issued a statement saying: “McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a concern and commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants. We are currently reviewing the allegations in the lawsuits.”

In a recent 10k filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, McDonald’s cited the risk to its business and forward guidance posed by “the impact of campaigns by labor organizations and activists, including through the use of social media and other mobile communications and applications, to promote adverse perceptions of the quick-service category of the IEO (informal eating out) segment or our brand..." The filing also cited upward pressure on wages in many markets around the world, "which may intensify with increasing public focus on matters of income inequality.”

Mary Chapman at food-industry research firm Technomic, which has done work for McDonald’s in the past, said she hasn’t yet seen any impact on fast-food companies’ profitability from activist campaigns. But she said the issue is on the industry’s radar.

“Consumers want to do business with people who feel the way that they do about issues, including social issues,” she said. “For some consumers, employment practices are very important. But for many more consumers, it’s more about price, convenience, and quality.”

Chapman pointed out that the employment narrative has changed over decades—not in the industry’s favor.

“In the past, the fast food employment story was a good one,” said Chapman. “The industry hired young people, and provided so many of today’s leaders with their first job.” But that story has shifted, with more middle-aged workers trying to earn a family wage from fast-food and other low-skilled service work.

Mark Brandau of Nation’s Restaurant News, who covers McDonald’s, said he has never before seen so much attention paid to the labor issues around fast-food. He said companies have to focus on it now. “I’m sure that they would like to see these issues being settled in the political arena,” said Brandau, “not in their dining rooms.”

Ukraine maps chart Crimea's troubled past

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 14:13
The maps that chart Crimea's troubled past

Van Persie 'wants to sign new deal'

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:46
Robin van Persie is keen to stay at Manchester United beyond the end of his current contract and is fully behind David Moyes.

Oil Industry Gets An Earful As It Eyes Florida's Everglades

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:46

A Texas company seeking permission for an injection well in the heart of the Everglades is finding stiff opposition from environmental groups and some locals.

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Rare US woman-to-woman HIV case

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:44
US health officials publish details of a rare case of suspected female-to-female HIV infection, reported in the state of Texas.

Sierra Leone's war leader dies

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:37
Sierra Leone's ex-president and war-time leader Ahmad Tejan Kabbah dies at the age of 82 after a long illness.

Birmingham honours ELO frontman

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:37
Singer-songwriter Jeff Lynne, frontman of the Electric Light Orchestra, is given a star on Birmingham's Walk of Stars.

Amazon Prime's $99 bargain

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:33

Amazon has decided that just being the biggest seller of stuff online isn't enough -- they've got to make a profit, too.   The company announced this morning in what seems like a long-awaited move that its $79 dollar Amazon Prime service will henceforth be its $99 Amazon Prime Service.   The phrase here is "loss leader." Even at $99, Prime is a bargain for shoppers. And it works out well for Amazon, too. One estimate has Prime customers spending $1,340 bucks a year on the site.

England replace Marler with Vunipola

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:33
Mako Vunipola replaces father-to-be Joe Marler for England in Saturday's Six Nations match against Italy in Rome.

Attractor Of Animosity Arthur Chu Leaves 'Jeopardy!' (For Now)

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:22

After an 11-win streak, Chu was finally defeated. Aside from his calculated strategy, Chu is noteworthy for getting such an intensely negative reaction from show fans. But he doesn't seem to mind it.

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Senators Want Watchdog To Investigate Federal Prosecutorial Misconduct

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:22

The senators used a report that details 650 ethics infractions by Justice Department lawyers to bolster their case for an independent inspector general.

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VIDEO: Reflecting the changing face of Asia

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:15
Photographer reflects changing face of Asia's modern cities

Pew Study: Many Technophiles Also Love Libraries

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:14

A new study by Pew Research Internet Project has a surprise: people who use the old-school local library also tend to be highly engaged with technology.

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US Republican in race controversy

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:12
Senior US Republican Paul Ryan says that remarks he made on a radio talk show that were labelled as coded racism were "inarticulate".

With A Spelling-Bee Subversion, Jason Bateman Breaks Bad

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:01

The Arrested Development actor stars in his own directorial debut as a 40-year-old middle-school dropout who decides — for a hidden motive — to compete in a national spelling bee.

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Blunkett 'regrets prison injustices'

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 13:00
Ex-Home Secretary David Blunkett expresses "regret" that indeterminate jail terms, brought in while he was in office, have led to "injustices".

Scores killed in Nigeria attack

BBC - Thu, 2014-03-13 12:48
At least 69 people have been killed in days of attacks on villages in Katsina state, north-western Nigeria, officials and witnesses say.

Will Democrats Change Their Health Law Message After Florida Loss?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-13 12:42

Democrats' Affordable Care Act message, essentially "fix it, don't nix" obviously didn't lead to victory in the Florida special election. But it doesn't look like they'll be changing their approach.

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